Trooping the Colour

With DUCAL 54mm traditional Toy Soldiers on the floor.
Going back The Mall (well… the floor) at that time there were still some Dorset and Britain’s… not anymore, sold them and substituted them by Ducal’s. The massed Bands looked quite impressive!

It has always been considered the summit of pageantry, at least in the UK, not for the sheer numbers involved but for the Tradition of it. There are other military parades around the world but Bearskins?, Red Tunics?, The Massed Bands?… I could go on and on… I even applied once for tickets but no luck at all -very difficult to organize living far away- so DVD’s of it have taking the place. I once watched in the Mall with my eldest son on a visit to London and saw them come and go from Horse Guards Parade.

H.M.The Queen and Personalities… very difficult to put everyone in just one pic!

Her Majesty’s Queen Elizabeth II Official Birthday Parade… but otherwise known as Trooping the Colour. Usually it is done the second Saturday of June -plus rehearsals the two Saturdays before that- It has always been a favorite of mine, so, let’s have some pics. Not much more text needed today I guess.

With Playmobils is a lot of fun.
The British Royal Guardsman is perhaps one of the most successful models of Playmobil. It comes with a silly rifle with no grip, so I prefer older models. Do not search for the cavalry those are Customized.
The final Band… it took a long time to find “instruments”… specially the Tubas.
The Royal Horse Artillery Mounted Troop… quite a nightmare to do.
Another view of the full table.

It all started here with this small set… LOL
The real thing… 99% DUCAL and some Tradition of London.

Playmobil variations

The Royal North Surrey of THE FOUR FEATHERS fame (1939 movie). Quite difficult to get the parts!. Legs from one standard figure, torso with stickers -as the arms- resin helmets with stickers… and what not! Sold them too.
To understand the process of customization, this is the basic figure that permitted building the Royal North Surrey, the color of the arms and torso matched the legs of the Spanish Conquistador, use the correct stickers (I asked that color RAL) and the rest is mechanical.

I am afraid the Goldberg are much better! specially those by Gould. But joking aside I did dedicate a whole chapter of my book to those plastic german chaps. They can be customized quite easily once you learn how.

And that is entertaining, specially if you are affected by the syndrome “I’ve been there, done that, got the T-shirt”. There used to be the middle age crisis -I do not know what middle age is nowadays- at 39 I bought a New Model LOTUS ELAN two seater if you know what I mean… Happy marriage does not need a divorce! As I said before let’s put joking aside.

Basically a Click as they are known is a plastic chasis with a head plug that holds all the other parts together. Quite simple concept. But a small engineering feat. They were originally very crude and toys for kids. They evolved. From what I call the third generation onwards they began to interest me. I started buying them for my grandchildren -who already got them never fear- and stocked a few because they were too young by far. Then one thing lead to another IT WAS FUN!… anything that fits the formula TOY SOLDIER + FUN = ENTERTAINMENT in my life. So, there I was, first I learned to disassemble them -YouTube is full of tutorials -, and Wikipedia will tell you the full story of Playmobil- and the “creation” of new soldiers, or to be fair, NON existing ranges was extremely funny.

Age of Reason clash!… Fictional Armies now in the hands of my grandchildren. The “tricorne” period is where the availability of parts is better in the markets.
Ulundi British square rear view,

After an intermittent span of ten years since I bought the first one and finally lost interest and got back to wargaming -6mm- and collecting -54mm toy soldiers- I went through many periods, I customized a lot, gifts to grandchildren were made, and complicated conversions were even sold! I have the tendency to sell the parts that does not interest me anymore to raise funds for new ventures, that way I have a real budget -more or less- I always spend more than I cash back but it helps!

So I did the ACW -and then sold the collection because it was too real brother against brother- I did Ancients (sold), I did British Colonials including Highlanders! (sold but the Zulu War Collection), I did the 7th at the LBH (still in my hands), I did the Household troops I already had in 54mm Traditional Toy Soldiers -quite a recurrent job- I did the Charge of the Light Brigade in the Crimea (sold). I did the Spanish and French Foreign Legion outfits (both sold). I bought Ships -customized them- now in the navies of my grandchildren. And I probably forget the Ivory Patrol and a lot of other minor subjects. It was real FUN.

ACW generals Sherman, Sheridan, Longstreet and Jackson. (Sold)
Two versions of ACW General Custer.
Battle of ABU KLEA (sold)
General G.A.Custer, Captain Keogh, Tom Custer and Lieutenant Cooke from the LBH set.

I explained it all quite in detail in my book but it is a lot easier to include pics in a blog.

Bromhead (Caine), Chard (Baker), Bourne etc. Ideal for skirmishing…
Got 6 Cos… can fight even Isandlwana!…
Highlanders… that is not easy!… you need special kits…(for the kilts).
The whole Zulu set… which nobody wanted!… Still for sale!

Little Big Horn

54mm Military Modeling, Andrea Miniatures…. what everyone’s has in mind.

Anniversary today. What do you want me to say that has not been said hundreds of times? A NO WIN-NO WIN situation if it ever was one. And I am only trying to be realistic. The only order Custer never gave was GET BACK! and that was the only clever one. Of course it was against his character to do that.

To begin at the beginning, I saw They died with their boots on when a child, terrible ending Anthony Quinn shooting Errol Flynn at the end. It become an obsession to play with my toy soldiers that battle. The passion is still there today but much well understood in context -I own and have read more than a hundred books about it- and I think Custer had no chance at all.

When a serious orthodox wargamer I was very frustrated by the lack of figures. Finally going for Minifigs in 15mm because they were the only one’s to do the range. I never painted a single figure all went to the painters, and I had hundreds of Indians (on these days I always bought the opposition). Never fought a game with them.

Just then FOUNDRY did the range in 28mm, I sold the 15mm (they were the only 15mm I ever got -if you do not count a Peter Laing’s Crimean effort who come to nothing- and did it all again. I even did some conversions mind. A nice set who was sold as the rest of 25/28m when my personal crisis with that scale turned the tables.

Last Stand Hill in 28mm, mainly Foundry 7th, Indians from any manufacturer who did them.

Of course since then, as with all lifelong obsessions, I have seen the rest of the films about it, even the silent one with Francis Ford on the leading rol (the elder brother of John Ford), probably one of the best is the TV miniseries Son of the morning star but Keogh’s outfit does not appear in it… shameful oblivion for a purist. If a bit of a Custerophile avoid like the pest Little Big Man with Dustin Hoffman, hippie culture revisionism of the worst kind. You’ve been warned.

It was one of my first Baccus proxies project, at least mounted they have a chance. I have no intention to build Reno’s and Benteen’s battalions they will never come.

6mm Baccus proxies (ACW range with cutted out sabers)… Get Back!… if you can…was probably the only sensible option after a few minutes of it.
The different stands needed to play the game. “E” troop mounted, skirmish line with horseholders, last hope with dead horses as ramparts and horses running. Do that for the 5 co’s and HQ. ACW Confederate cavalry with hat slightly modified or “converted”… no sabers at the LBH excepting two officers.

One of the things that makes it attractive is because it is the great “Greek Tragedy” of the “manifest destiny” idea, and on top of all… it comes at the commemoration of the Centenary celebrations… 1776-1876. The famed boy general of the American Civil War massacred!… that was the swan song of the Native Americans. Retribution for Custer was the only policy from then on…

Seriously, I enjoy trying to get out of the mess on the wargames table, but the only way is if Custer dies early on… and the next in command tries to get away from there! Not heroic? of course not. But I am talking about having a chance. Both Reno and Benteen have been vilified ad nauseam -with some reason mind- because they did not die there and then. History has been hard on them, specially Reno who was routed by himself and “charged to the rear” botching Benteen’s approach and even that of the pack train! I guess it is a fascinating little battle or skirmish because relative minor numbers were involved. I still do not know what will I do if Peter decides to make the range and Indians become available… Oh dear!… not again…

Great Battles of the World series… get the Indians if you can choose! A game that starts when all is already lost!
Playmobils 75mm, still in my collection, in a matter of seconds can be used for the ACW too…

An useful FaceBook link is: Little Big Horn Discussion Group



After 2016… (III)

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!)… LOL

Probably the most convoluted customizations of Playmobil figures I ever made. Age of Reason. (There in the Armies of my grandchildren!)

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… in fact there are also some customized Zulu War Playmobils nobody seems interested in buying! Baccus (mainly) 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, 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.

Grierson’s Raid in 28mm… suddenly more interesting in 6mm.

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 the only target.

An ACW wargame against my brother using 25mm Minifigs back in the good old days!

So, to sum up and end this thread post 2016 with this third post:

1) I have a nice 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… lurking in the hopefully not too distant future is a squadron of Chasseurs d’Afrique -as you know that has been done-. No change of main themes in the offing.

All the Queen’s Men 7th cavalry in Parade Dress Uniforms. Sold them long time ago.

2) Playmobils are in my past. But I still skirmish or parade them.

Naval battles no more…

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!.

Baccus (and some Rapier) 6mm Union Army on its tray.
Baccus 6mm Confederates on its tray (Cavalry and equipment for both are stored apart).

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 (Politically Correct nowadays!… it seems injuns or hostiles is not quite appropiate…).

Little Big Horn a boardgame from the series Great Battles of the World.

And I hope that makes clear what I am up to in the summer of 2019!

54mm is not the bigger of my scales… I even have a Napoleonic Chasseur of The Imperial Guard made of China porcelain… and even bigger than those shown!

Collecting Toy Soldiers I

Tradition of London Royal West Kent set complemented with some DUCAL made to order, and even some “conversions” by me as the Ensigns with Colours and the Pioneers.

For a blog who deals on Toy Soldiers or has the burden of the topic attached from the very beginning I have waited enough to do a post on the subject. You see, at least for me, ALL of them are Toy Soldiers. But there is a firm distinction of what is considered a “classic” Toy Soldier -and we are talking Antiques here- a bit snobbish and pricey if you please… “New Toy Soldiers” is an even more puzzling definition which I am going to explain too and for once I will not write a lot myself, all has been written to perfection by others… I began collecting 54mm Toy Soldiers -I should have said New Toy Soldiers as you will see- as everybody else who does. I like them. Bring back memories of a happy childhood when I did parades of soldiers on the floor following the counsels of my maternal grandad. They were my favorite toys and that’s that. When visiting London as an adult I couldn’t resist visiting the shops of “Tradition of London” and “Under two Flags” and started buying some red boxes as a result. It probably all started because when quite young my parents come back from London with an spectacular gift, a set of Britain’s with Coldstream Guards on a big box with two trays inside, Guards Band, Guards Marching, Guards at the present, Officers, Ensigns with Colours etc. Later on I even bought the books who described all those goodies and even finally knew the reference number of the set.

Well, as I have said, I am not a collector of Antiques, neither Britain’s, Mignot, Lucotte, Heyde or the like, I do not particularly see the point of “flats” even if some are beautiful pieces themselves, and I firmly stayed with my times and the products available then.

Top of the big cabinet where the Household Cavalry are with some personalities.
Lower part part the Cabinet. Some specials and the RHA.

In fact you only need to read the books about it by the specialist James Opie. For me the unavoidable volume is Collecting Toy Soldiers, he has written a lot of books on Britains, one of them the real “BIBLE” (The Great Book of Britain’s: 100 Years of Britains’ Toy Soldiers, 1893-1993) -bought it in Hamley’s myself numbered edition and all- but of course there is no point for me in all that because I do not collect Britain’s, but if you do, get Opie’s books, really top stuff. Much more interesting for me was the book by solo wargamer legend Stuart Asquith The Collector’s Guide to New Toy Soldiers, a 1991 book -got a dedicated copie- who funnily enough deals with the new brands and manufacturers from 1973 onwards -post hollow cast Britain’s- that by now are “new classics” because in those nearly fifty years have ceased to exist or are much more less preeminent nowadays. Let’s mention DUCAL or FORT-DUCAL (Jack and Thelma Duke who become long distance “friends”), Tradition of London, Dorset Soldiers (Gilles Brown times), Marlborough, and some other minor interests of mine.

Collecting 54mm traditional Toy Soldier gloss figures -not to be confused with 54mm Military Modeling figures- become an habit, and finally even purposefully build cabinets where made to show them at home… not playing stuff anymore I fear… and even less for kids.

An old pic of the small cabinet inserted on the library. There are eleven shelves, only figures on two shelves remain in my collection! Even those FFL were sold and substituted by others in more “action” stances. The five inferior shelves where not gloss figures and finally went away -aka sold-.
The “big” cabinet under the stairs where the main theme -not quite original- is displayed. The Household Division units by shelves. Some of them have been converted (lancers become sword troops) and some sold (Regimental Bands Mounted not in State Dress) to add specials and vignettes of the trooping of the colour.
Always enjoyed The Trooping of the Colour and The Changing of the Guard ceremonies or pageantry. I even mixed manufacturers once… by now all are Ducal.

It was not a straightforward process!, I bought sets that later I did sold to “make place” and finally concentrated in some themes dear to me and now is a fairly steady collection not subject to sudden whims or extreme changes of direction anymore. But from time to time I add a piece or two, always filling gaps you know…

As a picture is worth a thousand words hereby see what I mean.

DUCAL band of the Royal West Kent made to order purposefully.
Tel el Kebir set.
Cavalry by DUCAL and Mountain Guns by Tradition of London.
Last but not least theme on my collection French Foreign Legion by DORSET SOLDIERS, its former owner Gilles Brown was really helpful.
Two models added in 2018 thanks to a gentleman contacted in Facebook. painted by me.
General Wolseley, Replicametalsoldiers Andrew, 2019 addition.
Same as above but French General. XIXth Corps d’Afrique.
Inspector General NWMP or RCMP painted by yours truly. Also REPLICAMETALMODEL ANDREW.

If I had to start again…

As with your real life -I know you have one!- experience modifies the approach. Many people have uttered the nonsense sentence: “I wish I was twenty-something again”, it is understandable but I must add please let me take me with me all that I have learned!, and that is valid both for your real life and your miniature fictional one.

Greek Wars in a grid. Beautiful minis by Foundry in 28mm NOT painted by me.

My oldest game with a grid using the same 28mm of the pic before. Now the figures used are Baccus 6mm.

Not going to bother you much with reminiscences but let me say that if I could go back in time I would have gone Heroics&Ros in the seventies, but with big bases as POLEMOS suggests, my mistake back then was to try to base them in twos or threes… what a mess! If the idea of basing Regiments or Brigades in a single base had occurred to me I would have enjoyed my games much more and saved a lot of cash!. Many projects I had in mind could have been done easily and simultaneously… All of this is of course an anachronism and wishful thinking. On those days, not so much today, I was obsessed to conform to the rules, and THE RULES (popular at the time!), how to play with them model soldiers without a decent set of Rules!. An Orthodox view was a necessity to me in those days…

One of my standard French Napoleonic units, metallic thin bases, 23 figures, call it a Battalion, a Regiment, a Brigade or even a Division in function of the game… I did. Note the Command square is a 5x5cm stand instead of the 5×2,5 of the infantry stands. It took me years to learn the distinctions between Fusiliers, Voltigeurs and Grenadiers of the Line.
Using the same stands, a bigger unit, suddenly the meaning change formation from line to column and viceversa becomes more real. I was obsessed by those things for a time as the Column versus Line firefight. Those were the days.

Well, if you have read some of this Posts or my previous adventures in the Baccus Forum, you know I collect Toy Soldiers in 54mm, I buy, I sell, I found new interests, I change direction, whatever, but this is a cabinet display affair… “decoration” perish the thought!… they are decorative but the collection in itself is a way of gaming too… a Post someday will be done. But my main interest since a child was playing at war -aka wargames- and if a bit chivalrous the better, I loved gaudy uniforms and commanders leading from the front. I firmly put the stop or limit at 1900 for obvious reasons to me. My brother is a WWII nerd and I can accept that without problem but no thank you the XX century is not for me. But let’s go to the point, what did I learn in all those years?… not much I can hear you say… but one or two things are probably useful. See if it helps:

  1. Plan ahead. In a way I tried hard to do it but mistakes did occur nevertheless. You will have to choose a period (or several); Scale (or several even if that means multiplying gear), I am a firm believer in sticking to a scale no matter what.
  2. Choosing a period is a matter of taste and affinity, it helps a lot that a good or several ranges of minis do exist to begin with. At that point the Napoleonic trap is already looming on the horizon. If ever a mini is overproduced and available readily is a grognard of Napoleon’s Imperial Guard… Manufacturers know it and it is their bread&butter… anybody in the hobby, those who remain in it -and those who have tried and gone to do other things- have bought an Imperial Guardsman with Bonnet a Poil. Enough. Go for a period.
  3. Sticking to a Scale has the immense BONUS of not duplicating scenery, terrain, and equipment!… how many wagons, pontoon trains, tents, and what not are you going to get if you go for several scales? Specially if you are a solo wargamer -in the back of beyond as me- for those with Club facilities the matter is quite different.
  4. With the same stands you can play Free Kriegspiel or in a grid. Do what you like. I particularly hate metric rulers and the notion of measuring things on the tabletop… -probably a consequence of my profession in real life- and “counting stores” every half hour. Removing casualties is another thing to avoid in my experience.
  5. If megalomaniac, meaning you go for it BIG in scope even in the smaller scales, consider the multipurpose units, a simple exchange of the Command&Colours stand and you have a double or triple unit, but that is a useful concept only if you have planned that ahead. In the Napoleonic period it was useful, but I am talking 25mm here.

I will have to edit heavily this Post once I remember other useful things, but for the sake of it I have given you food for thought.

A paradigmatic multipurpose unit, I had 4 different command stands, one British as you can see, one ACW Union, one ACW Rebel, one French… and what not… it was useful to balance particular games changing sides as it was necessary. In fact all the figures are conversions with new heads.
In Napoleonic period the Swiss and the Danes are particularly able to be used changing command stands. And not the only nationalities you can tamper with.
I guess you dig the thing. In 6mm it would mean breaking in three parts that beautiful concept of Brigade stand… but only for a few units… and you avoid the repetitive process and cash inversion.
Playmobil 75mm paranoia… ok… just a different thing for fun!
Skirmishing Greek Wars with Playmobils 75mm. Note the grid.
A “thing” you can do with Playmobils that you can not do in lead… specially useful in skirmish games. It was fun for a decade or so. I am cured now.

Conversions and proxies

Foundry Crimean conversions 28mm.

Nowadays we are spoiled for choice in the vast majority of scales and catalogues, so a lot of you would not even bother with conversions, proxies is all together another thing because in the smaller scales sometimes means just changing the paint job. You will soon realize the important of headgear -as once Wellington remarked- Nevertheless, we are always pestering manufacturers with our demands. Up to a point is absolutely logical. You are a student of a period -obscure or popular does not matter- you will find THE GAP!… For all his extended catalogue in Colonial Warfare Peter does not make a Naval Brigade!… what to do?… first of all annoy Peter on the Forum of Baccus asking for them!… on second thoughts peruse the catalogue and see what can be used with a nice paint job, in this case ACW Confederate skirmishers with hat -nice Sennet hat-. OK, those are proxies!… my entire Crimean cavalry Light Brigade are proxies with the right paint job… see pics on other Posts in this Blog.

So, let’s forget about paint jobs and let YOU search for proxies. It is a rewarding pass-time and it puts your little cells to work as Poirot would have said. I am not talking about mixing manufacturers which of course is an even easier way to get the thing done. In my 25/28mm Union ACW cavalry I used Dixon horses because I found them to my taste – it is always about taste- with Foundry and To The Redoubt riders, which did not prevented me to sell the lot once fed up with the bigger scales… had a hard crisis with that!

One of my more complicated (and crude) conversions, Tim Tyler’s Ivory Patrol… if you know what that outfit is you are probably as old as me. Even torsos were used from Penal Roman Legionnaires.

So, what are “conversions”?, basic modeling skills, a couple of pliers and a sharp cutter and even in 6mm a mini drill are needed. Ok, let’s make it simple: in larger scales it is easier but probably you will also need green-stuff because the cuts are not always that neat. See some pics included, I do not even talk about larger scales as 54mm because those are already able to be ordered or asked for “with different parts” and been able to be assembled by you. From 15mm downwards it is possible but more prone to damage minis to the point of having to discard ones. But on the other side they are less expensive and the margin of mistakes or your limits will soon appear and you will attempt what is inside your range of skills. In my personal experience the only things I do in a “proper” conversion denomination so far is modifying weapons, no sabers at the Little Big Horn, out go the sabers of Confederate Cavalry with hat and that’s it. On the contrary I desired a British Regiment of Cavalry Colonial khaki with sabers so I modified the carbines and scabbards. All super quick jobs. I guess the longer time you have been in the hobby helps. It is the same with “retouching”, I order from painting services, but if I want the peaks of the kepis BLACK I do it myself with a POSKA marker… a matter of seconds… same as adding detail to zouaves outfits etc. Mind, I was at first a bit afraid to try it in 6mm… but even the drill has come to action to provide standard-bearers when needed!… with the proverbial dressmakers bits of pins.

Custer’s battalion at the Little Big Horn -or Little Horn as some authors insist- Use of the drill for the standard-bearers, cutter to remove sabers, and different paint jobs all around. Should have kept this pic for the 25th of June!

Any wargamer or modeler worth its salt will indulge in those one day or other, it is a kind of final exam or doctorate… LOL.

A redundant Chasseur d’Afrique with cloak in 28mm.
Head has been cut out with pliers and cutter. Mini drill at work. See that the carbine has been suppressed too.
To the Redoubt supplies a vast amount of varied heads in 28mm in his ACW range. Here a simple head with kepi is used and superglued. A pin would be also added as flagstaff.
The final conversion. A “new” Rebel with guidon.

Painting Services

Kingdom of Naples, Saxons and Bavarians. MINIFIGS 25mm. Once in my collection thanks to painting services.

It is normal to finally use them, the reasons are many and varied. I have written below a quick sum up of what I considere the first and foremost.

There are six main reasons to use a Painting Service to my knowledge:

  1. You are the ten thumbs type of person who does not like arts&crafts, and is not able to paint the figures yourself, but has read History and wants to wargame or whatever… needs someone to paint his miniatures for him. No problem at all you did not build your car don’t you? (mind, I know a guy who does!).
  2. Time is an issue, either you are too old -as me today- to contemplate starting something anew, or either (as was my case too at a certain time) you do not have spare time because you are overworked and need what remains of it to have a family life in the real world.
  3. You do not have a room or a corner to do the job yourself -this can be aggravated but someone living with you allergic to paint- pass on and go ahead… use a painting service.
  4. Megalomania also is a cause because it is impossible to you to do it for the sheer amount of minis for your project.
  5. Laziness, if you are able to explain yourself meticulously to the painters and have the cash… why not?.
  6. A variant of (2) is a Time Date, be that a wargame with friends or a Convention Game. You love to paint, and are able to, but you simply have not the timespan.

I always had a plus of love for the figures I painted myself, and I painted more than two thousand 25/28mm myself in my time, but I adapted quickly to the system at a certain moment due to point (2) and (6).

Guess this is enough, maybe there are even other reasons like short-sight or whatever but I am not going to dwell on that.

Nowadays I use several painting services at the same time (I am near seventy!), Mersey Wargames have painted my Union 6mm Baccus Army and other projects like Khaki British Colonials, Custer’s Battalion at the LBH, the XIXth French Corps (Afrique) etc.; Turbil Miniatures have painted the Confederates also using Baccus 6mm; and Reveille has painted Leven buildings, fences, bridges, stonewalls, Baccus trees basing, and scenery in general (and some units because Daniel have done them for himself before).

A typical order when arrives, open the box and you get 4 brigades of Infantry, 2 of Cavalry, 2 limbers and 2 Wagons. Mersey Wargame output. I do not even have to buy the minis myself, just specify what you want in a detailed form and pop goes the whistle.
A small order from Turbil Miniatures. Some Baccus and some Rapier 6mm.

In my 25mm Napoleonic times, there was a time when I was really been overworking as an Arquitect, that made me start the process of dealing with painting services that even offered different levels of finition (I did the details and the basing myself) and that was the only way to have Austrian and Russian Armies and other minor states…

Spanish, Polish and Wurtemberg units, MINIFIGS 25mm painted through painting services, I did the basing and put on the flags and little else (some retouching here and there). No time to paint them myself sadly enough.

Some tips that are probably evident… but nevertheless let me do a succinct exposition:

First of all you have to plan ahead because all painters have a waiting list, they are in it as a business and they want to keep the customer satisfied. So if you do wait too much to place an order do not be surprised by the long wait… keep that in mind. The better the Painting Service the longer the waiting list.

There are two ways to avoid too much delay: one which helps to speed the process (and gain time with cancelling the trips of the minis to and fro) is to place the order directly to the painters -of course it needs a sound knowledge of the packs or ranges you are asking for- but it is possible.

The other more lengthy but sometimes unavoidable if you -like I do- indulge in some conversions is to order from Baccus or whoever, and once things properly converted/organized send them to the painting service.

To gain time, if you really know what you are going to do, you can do it in parallel. For example: tell the painter via email: send an Invoice via PayPal for 12 brigades of Union Infantry ACW, 28 minis per stand including price of basing and put me on your waiting list while you wait for the rest of the minis to arrive, and so on. Ask for an ETA too. I would probably will use that mixed method if I do another period.

The most important tip is that the painter does not have the gift of telepathy, meaning that what you do not write down -on an email- will be done at his or her discretion, do you want the two standard-bearers standing in the front rank side by side? do say so, do you want a certain disposition of the figures in the base? specify correctly, do you want your Cavalry based in a certain way? wedge, line, double line, whatever… say so. I think I have made the point clear.

Think also that the Painting Service is not an Encyclopedia of your period of interest, and providing images and details of the uniforms ALWAYS (not shouting just emphasis) help a lot, specially when using proxies. Do not forget to ask for particular colours for the horses, trumpeters on greys, etc. And above all remember that what you do not specify is left to chance! – sometimes even a pleasant result-But surely it is not a moment for laziness. Do make your homework and the Painting Service will be almost as if you have painted the minis yourself.

One of my first tries with a painting service, I ordered some Republican Rome and Carthaginians to substitute missing pieces of a board-game (very old). The first infantry minis I got from Baccus.


Lateral view.

I was going to post another theme and suddenly I realized it was the 18th of June. So what? Well, first thing first, when you have dedicated the best years of your wargaming life to Napoleon and Wellington -the later specially related with Waterloo- you need to acknowledge the fact. It is true that I did collect all nations at the very end of my Napoleonic period, adding Austrians, Russians, Spanish, Swedes and what not… but the main interest was for years the battle of Waterloo. It became an obsession, of course the more I read about it and the more I studied the thing it become evident that Napoleon’s days were over since 1812, and that the decision to invade Spain in 1808 to get to Portugal was a huge mistake, but as a whole, for all the might of France and his leader you simply can not take all Europe against YOU and expect to win in the end. I could talk about Leipzig but for what purpose?… My myth and the myth of so many other wargamers round the world is the final showdown at WATERLOO. There are even those who ignore the Hundred Days campaign and forget about Ligny and Quatre Bras… it is always WATERLOO!. And nobody cares about Wavre and Grouchy… heve an excellent book about it by the way.

Waterloo. Mainly 25mm MINIFIGS (99%), some Garrison and others to fill gaps on the range. A view from the French side at the start of the battle. The top of my big table -at work- was already green for wargaming purposes…

I was fascinated reading about it by the way the British have done an excellent propaganda job about it, only digging a bit you understand the real number of Brits in it, the Allied Army and so on… you finally understand that as the joke says “you can not have enough Prussians”. German books insist that they won the battle. But what was even more puzzling is that the French stop short to call it a Victory!, only a cumuli of circumstances makes them retreat at the end after having won the battle at 18:00… damn Ney, damn Grouchy, damn the Prussians, damn whatever and anybody but The Emperor who as you know never did nothing wrong… that is the stuff of legends.

Napoleon and his staff. The page at his left was painted by my brother.

So, I do not apologize for being so mesmerized by it for so many time, it was great fun, and I did paint all those minis myself (to know the right uniforms was a joy and time well spent), French, British&Allies and Prussians. No painting services used excepting some ADC’s. Boxes of unpainted lead on top of the cupboards for years, trips to Southampton and chats with Mr. Neville Dickinson included when annual vacations permitted (later they become compulsory… 30% less because no postage, no bayonets broken in transit, see for yourself, etc. The MINIFIGS Catalogue was my bedtime read companion for years.

Ok, that’s enough. You all know how it was ad nauseam and how the British used “his victory”as a jumping platform to build an Empire (another myth because it all started with the Seven Years War and later with Naval supremacy after Nelson’s Victory at Trafalgar!). I add some pics and that would be it!

Almost forgot to mention the immense pleasure for me that is “bath- tubing”, how to get proportional forces present in the field was a hobby inside the hobby. It would be easy with my experience to do it again in 6mm because even if the packs from Peter are a bit oversized in matters of numbers for say the Guard Cavalry… you can use the redundant figures as Elite Dragoons of the Line (bearskin), and Elite Chasseurs of the Line (colpack), a couple per stand do the trick and enhance your wargames table with the real flavour, making the units so true to life!

Wellington under “his” tree.
Close up of the Heavy Cavalry of the Imperial Guard, FOUNDRY officer of Horse Grenadiers. I finally added trumpeters and Standard-bearers in the final stages of my obsession.
Another view from the Allied side. See the Scots Grey’s?… one of my first ever buys…
Close up of British “Heavies”, Life Guards and Heavy Dragoons.
Close up of Allied Light Cavalry.
British and Hanoverian Infantry.
That was my solo Waterloo effort and that’s that. can see some Old Glory Cuirassiers on the left.
The Prussians arrival in the field…
Centre bottom the Gordon Highlanders… the first Minifigs unit I ever painted.
Just for fun… I even started customizing Playmobils!… I stopped there with those two.

I still buy books about the Napoleonic era, and only a strong will refrains me to go Napoleonic again with Baccus (of course), the sheer magnitude of the task, the long span of time, the different uniforms in many campaigns and the idea it will all be for nothing -because he really stood no chance against the whole lot of them- helps me to it. I will only indulge in that with a Club like the Little Wars TV chaps… but none to be seen for miles around!

After 2016… (II)

I started again buying Baccus figures with Colonial British in mind, but with a change of color, I went khaki because a read of 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.

30x30mm stands makes possible to field smaller Regiments, or big one’s, see also ACW limbers pressed into service. I use a stand 30x30mm to represent a company but in Victoria’s Little Wars the system is adaptable.

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. 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 using dressmakers pins).

Old pic already published on the Baccus Forum, since then I have cutted out the bayonets of the first rank.

Now, for a bit of heresy, I use the same minis to fight Maiwand, the North West Frontier and The Sudan. It is a bonus of 6mm. I know Peter do the Camel Corps mounted and dismounted but I did not bought them because the difference between a dusty grey and khaki is quite imperceptible in 6mm. I can hear purists crying oh Dear!. But let’s push on. 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 acknowledge the point!

Great War Indian troops pressed into service on an earlier era -aka NWF-, see the Bengal lancers at the back. They do have Vicker’s too! I can see Lt. McGregor (Gary Cooper yet again) whistling for them in “Lives of a Bengal Lancer”. I always wanted a Regiment of Bengal Lancers (In 25mm I only managed 6 mounted Minifigs…)

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.

See the converted Camels and Mules to transport Gardners or Mountain Batteries.
A Regiment of “converted” cavalry with swords. Note the vedettes carry carbines.
A Regiment of Lancers.