Hello! 12-06

It took me years to get those memories back on track… I fondly remembered that “special” mountie I had when a child… never seen one alike since then, it does not matter a lot to me that it was simply an undress dark blue patrol jacket… IT WAS MY BLUE MOUNTIE!… so I finally painted him myself! ANDREW STEVENS REPLICAMETALMODELSOLDIERS 54mm.

I decided to create a Blog – obviously and not originally named https://www.mytoysoldiersandme.com – as a mean to communicate with the rest of the wargaming/collecting world -and a posteriori with my grandchildren- and specially with my readers! I have been playing with Toy Soldiers since I was born, I collect them, have been involved in all kinds of approaches to the theme, including Wargaming (in different scales), Military Modeling, Conversions, Painting Myself or using Painting Services… You name it I have done it (excluding fantasy, Sci-fi and post 1900). By the way if you considered worthy or of help please share the link with your friends in the Toy Soldier community!

My idea or purpose is to continue giving advice -not asked for- on the subject of toy soldiers. Please note that in the term TOY SOLDIER I include everything related or remotely related to toy soldiers and wargaming. It is so for me. NOTE: at the bottom there are the 3 numerals of the pages existing nowadays… and also there are direct links by themes:

CATEGORIES

I even wrote a book about it once (available in English and Spanish languages) but the passing of time has made the text a bit incomplete… so here is the way to explain what happened next -after 2016- quite a lot of things in fact! The book explained my experiences in the fields of wargaming and collecting since the middle fifties up to 2016 and of course it is quite exhaustive about the golden period of wargaming -if it ever existed-. If you have any doubts or questions I can be contacted at adb@andorra.ad

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That is the cover and back cover of the second English edition. Still on sale through amazon, both on paperback and kindle. Finally this one sales regularly in the wargames fraternity and readers interested on the topic of Toy Soldiers.

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.
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 (Second edition also still available in amazon) because I was born in Spain and that was my first language.

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Cover and Back cover of the Spanish second edition. Sold even less then the first!

To make the tale short I decided to translate the opus to English myself because the Anglo-Saxon community (UK and USA and Internationally around…) is where the hardcore followers thrive. It was a mistake, I was wrong because sintaxis and language construction of the first English edition were not good enough, and that is a big euphemism. Hard or even mild critics on amazon mentioned that specifically, so I got a translator and corrector for the English second edition -that after three years reads as a different book!- and added more than a hundred pics in colour (as you know a picture is worth a thousand words).

I am not going to write MY TOY SOLDIERS & ME part II, never fear. It is much better to ramble here -I can even edit, add, reorder or delete!- and post the link to the blog in FB or twitter, so if someone is interested he or she gets the update for free.

I am enjoying myself – as only SOLO WARGAMERS do – doing it and keep you abreast of developments.I have sold it via amazon (of course). In fact it sells better in kindle form (cheaper and readers able to zoom the pics I guess). All started when I read an article on a newspaper saying how easy it was to auto-publish a book. I became interested. I learned about CreateSpace and the rest is history.

That ended my adventure in self-publishing… at least a reviewer in amazon.com was kind enough to say “IT WAS WRITTEN FROM THE HEART”… thank you kindly that comment made my day!

I am in FaceBook as Alejo Dorca Bis but not obsessed to have many “friends”, there I follow groups akin to my interests or pet subjects on History, Toy Soldiers and Wargaming, and even comment from time to time, it is real fun sometimes but you also see a lot of “spam” unfortunately . It is a too much dispersed an effort to comment on facebook, or in different threads on the Forum in Baccus for that matter! The Baccus 6mm miniatures are very good quality and my current wargaming scale passion, but I considere the idea of a Forum in their web page a particularly great idea of Peter!

After 2016… (I) 14-06

Full Union Army Baccus (and a bit of Rapier) 6mm is what I have mainly done using three Painting Services and only adding details myself (as some bits and flags ). 2020 pic.

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.

Von Bredow’s Death Ride in Baccus 6mm (the Dragoons are out of the pic because some sources say they were detached from the final Charge). They appear in another pic in this Blog.

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.

Curiously enough the only piece “FOR SALE” remaining at home of the old Playmobil Collection is the whole 7th Cavalry!…

Custer’s whole 7th in 75mm bathtubed at 1/9 aprox. (Still for sale at 900 euros + Postage by MRW anywhere at cost). Guess if nobody is interested after a while they will be offered to my grandchildren. Or given to the LBH museum if they are interested!

After 2016… (II) 17-06

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.

30x30mm stands makes possible to field small Regiments, or big one’s, it dependes on how many stands you use on that particular game. See also ACW limbers pressed into colonial service (multipurpose equipment is used whenever possible). I use a stand 30x30mm to represent a company but in “my” 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 -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).

Old pic already published on the Baccus Forum, since then I have cut out the bayonets of the minis

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 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.

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.

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 2016… (III) 24-06

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!).

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 at the Little Big Horn (recently have decided to sell the later set too, see pics of them in the Blog, and feel free to contact me at adb@andorra.ad if interested)

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.

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!.

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. Incidentally I must mention that I have over two 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.

Foot Imperial Guard.
Horse Imperial Guard.

American Civil War (I)

Baccus 6mm Rebels deployed. Painted by Turbil Miniatures.

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.

Confederates deployed for action.

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 Napoleonic megalomania I swapped ,y Union Army for my brother’s Napoleonics (same trade mark) to do not heve 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.

Very good textbook.
Excellent Illustrations. A must have book.

Now, as I have in my modest collection enough troops to have fun -megalomania is a pest to avoid- and all the references of 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 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.

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 s 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, CIVIL WAR STORIES (A.Bierce)… Frank Yerby, John Jakes, even the great Bernard Cornwell did 4 novels about it!

ACW (II) 07-09

The whole Union Army minus special stands. 34 brigades of Infantry + 9 Artillery Batteries + 7 Brigades of Cavalry + Command stands… wagons… Foreign observers etc etc etc. A two years work Mainly painted by Mersey Wargames Painting Service and bits by yours truly. I have a lot of Union Cavalry stands “extra” by using the Little Big Horn stands (Converted ACW) until Peter finish his PONY WARS range!… that could mean “consequences”… Oh! Dear!…
Union special stands… in some cases alternatives to the above.
The completed Confederate Army. Three Corps, 27 Brigades of Infantry. 7 Artillery Batteries. 7 cavalry Brigades + Command stands etc etc etc. mainly painted by Turbil Miniatures Painting Service, a third by Mersey Wargames painting Service and as always little details and flags added by me.

Confederate Army special stands.
ACW landscape… read future battlefield. Baccus and Leven items of scenery done by REVEILLE.

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 Practical Wargamer 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.

Thr POSCA markers I use to alter details here and there… those Regiments have had a change of flags and kepi colour changes a posteriori of the pic!
The Union stands from above with different kepis on the flanks so to represent a Brigade of various Regiments as mentioned in Posts in Baccus Forum.

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.

One of the books to have about uniforms… in fact it aglutinates the two previous volumes by the same authors.

ACW (III) 07-07

Scenery in the period is really easy to find, In fact in 6mm a lot of items can be used in different periods like Trees, Bridges, Fences, Fields (plough or not), trenches, tents etc.

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.

Stonewall Jackson Foundry 28mm.

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…

U.S.Grant, same as above.

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.

ACW (IV) Special Stands 20-08

Pontoon Bridge (Baccus) and Cavalry wading special stand. painted by Mersey Wargames.

As a corollary, when at the end of building Brigade stands I stopped to think a bit, I decided to put variety and glue the minis differently on them stands, after all the 60×30 stand was already paramount in my Armies and had a lot of two lines of 12 + 4 skirmishers in front so… those questions come to my mind:

1) How do you represent the feat of the First Minnesota at Gettysburg?, it was a single Regiment NOT a Brigade who charged by orders ALONE! into a Confederate Brigade who was superior in numbers and also outflanked them on both sides… HOW DO YOU DO IT?… Don Troiani’s paintings as an inspiration… but not exclusively that. I am not shouting excuse the emphasis.

2) At the end of the ACW there were Rebel Brigades reduced so much that in fact had the strength of a Regiment…

Well, all of that put me in gear to do some special stands, the theory was completed: I did build new stands in the following manner:

  1. Using the standard 60x30mm Baccus stand I represented units understrength, meaning NOT the usual two ranks of 12 minis and 4 skirmishers in front.
  2. I represented isolated units with flanks unprotected -aka 1st Minnesota at Gettysburg- Using fewer minis in the center of the stand with no skirmishers and still two ranks.
  3. In the same stand I will put side by side two units with their colours but much reduced -Confederates- to represent late war status.
  4. Last but not least that induced other supporting ideas… why not push forward both lines and eliminate skirmishers from the picture making some minis in the rear rank a bit not aligned -that represents stragglers or tired soldiers trying to catch up- a new stand to give variety to the tabletop- and what about mounted officers of the Brigade?… THE MEN MUST SEE US TODAY!… just another variation… and so on… (still not shouting).
  5. And in my final order I included Brigades with flank refused, as in Little Round Top extreme of the line.

I did the drawings and schemes and post them to Greg at MERSEY WARGAMES PAINTING SERVICE, those “new stands” will gave my own rules more scope for variety.

I am probably not the first to realize the flexibility of the system that enables a more liberal composition of the minis glued to the base -I am not claiming originality at all- but I guessed it would be a good idea to post my thoughts about them.

Hereby find the instructions and diagrams -scanners attached- for the painting of the ACW Infantry and Cavalry.

1.- Union troops are absolutely REGULAR in dress, blankets Black tarpaulin (Impermeable gear). Only one Regiment of coloured troops (NEGROES) with white officers. Hats always black.

2.- Confederates mainly butternut and dark brown blankets. I appreciate if bits of grey showing be that kepis, jackets or pants in 50% of the  minis.

NOTE: These typed instructions have pre-eminence over the diagrams, in case of conflict between the two follow the present text. Of course, clarifications can be provided.

As you know these stands have NO skirmishers, have the standard double line (pushed forward because NO skirmishers) always central command strip with flags in the centre in the first rank -officer to one side, drummer at the other- with independence of the gluing of the minis on the stand which is the purpose of this present order: ADD VARIETY TO THE ASPECT OF THE STANDS. All minis are facing forwards, even when refused flanks or catching up… no minis running away. Remember NO NEED TO GLUE FLAGS ON THEM, just paint the guidons on the cavalry.

Diagrams to make myself understood by a painter of minis more than a thousand miles away! -Greg is REALLY helpful-
Diagrams above underway… painting by Mersey Wargames.
The above stands finished with flags etc. Mersey Wargames Painting service and final touch by yours truly.

A.- Union Infantry stands:

A1.-    Number one on the diagrams, 20 minis glued as shown with margin at the sides, meaning as together (centred) as on a typical stand of 28 minis such POLEMOS.

There are two minis “catching up” at the rear, not much distanced, one and two base width is OK (on the diagram looks much distorted). All kepi with blanket.

A2.-    Same as above but a mix of kepi and hats. 4 minis in the rear rank “catching up”. Always same criteria as on A1.

A3.-    24 minis + Mounted Officer at the front (from the Cavalry packs), It is a standard POLEMOS stand with the addition of the Mounted officer instead of skirmishers and 3 minis catching up in the rear rank. Minis glued more forward to permit that.

A4.-    12 minis. All black hats. Centred in stand. Flanks unprotected.

A5.-    20 minis. Right flank refused. Same as above.

A6.-    Stand with two small Brigades. 24 minis + Mounted Officer. First rank of the rear Bgde.  and Second rank of forward Bgde.  can be aligned.

A7.-    Same as A5. But the other flank refused. (Left). 20 minis.

A8.-    Put as many kepis as possible in that one… at least 50%. Very similar to A1 but those are Coloured troops with white officers. Two minis “catching up”.

Had to find stands to fit the width of the BACCUS Bridge. I did also other Special stands of course see ACW II.

B.- Confederate Infantry stands:

B1.-     Number one on the diagrams, 20 minis glued as shown, meaning as together (centred) as on a typical stand of 28 minis such POLEMOS. But right flank refused as in A5. Mixed lot. Use different colours for hats.

B2.-     Same as above but left flank refused.

B3.-     12 minis + Mounted officer.. All “straw coloured” hats. Centred in stand. Flanks unprotected.

B4.-     Stand with two small Brigades. 24 minis + Mounted Officer. First rank of the rear Bgde.  and Second rank of forward Bgde.  can be aligned. Quite as A6.

B5.-     Same as B4 minus mounted officer. When aligned like this they have to match B4 and B6 position glued as to look a “LINE”. In fact it would look as an standard POLEMOS stand with two sets of colours, no skirmishers and pushed forward.

B6.-     Same as B4 but symmetrical, see diagram. 

TOTAL of 124 infantry minis and 3 mounted officers. (Include 9 command strips).

For the Infantry stands you will need 14 units of 60x30mm bases NOT INCLUDED.

ACW Cavalry Stands:

Colour of horses predominantly Dark and Red Bays, some Black. All buglers on white horses. Mix a bit.

C1.-     60x30mm stand with 9 minis (UNION) wading a river as mentioned in previous emails:

The idea is to have in a 60×30 Baccus standard base of 9 figures unit in column wading a river… IN LONGITUDINAL WAY DIRECTION FRONT OF 30mm … that means: To cut the bases of the first three (command) and the last two troopers, and the whole legs of the horses (4) in the middle of the base, glue them like that in a more or less “disordered way” but still in column… and paint the base sky blue… as WATER.

C2.-     Same as above but Confederate. (No butternut)

C3.-     A typical Cavalry Brigade of 9 minis (UNION) as per POLEMOS… but in arrow formation as seen in the Forum in Baccus webpage. Officer forward and troopers on each side a bit behind each time, so that the extremes are the more back figures. Quite straightforward.

C4.-     Same as above. Confederate. (No butternut)

Now, what to do with the remaining mounted minis?. NO officer’s left but still guidons (standard-bearers) and buglers.

Please use 30×30 stands on the rest, groups of 4 minis, 2 in front 2 behind as you have done for me repeatedly.

C5.-     4 Union stands, guidon on front rank (right side), bugler front rank (left side). Two troopers behind. Please mix hats and kepis.

C6.-     2 Confederate Stands same as above. (No butternut)

C7.-     4 Union stands with 4 troopers mixed headgear.

C8.-     2 Confederate Stands with 4 troopers as C7. (No Butternut).

Some Special Stands with customized flags (Custer at the LBH is not ACW of course) but the purpose of the pic is to show how easy is even in 6mm.

Collecting Toy Soldiers (I) 23-06

Tradition of London Royal West Kent set complemented with some DUCAL made to order -aka RSM at the center back and the Band not included in the pic- , and even some “conversions” by me as the Ensigns with the 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 -superposed- ColdstreamGuards 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 “new” 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 (Giles Brown times), Marlborough, and some other minor interests of mine.

I first collected whatever took my fancy… but then in following years I rectified, concentrated by themes and sold items (strange been FFL) to make place for others. Those I sold. Dorset Soldiers.
All the Queen’s men small 54mm. Also sold. Beautiful but not relation to my main interests.
Only the RCMP remains in my collection (now two shelves) and the marching constables have been modified with a gun at the slope idem as the Colour Party. The Denmark Royal Guard I sold with deep regret as the Band was done specially for me by Giles Brown from Dorset Soldiers using kits from Tradition and recast instruments. The Greys above also had to go because of lack of space.

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.

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 ceremony (The Queen’s Birthday Parade). Middle of June every year.
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 Giles 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.
2020 project…

Collecting Toy Soldiers (II) 02-09

My most recent purchase. ReplicaMetalSoldiersAndrew 54mm Chasseurs d’Afrique.

Not that it is very easy this days to find what you need or want, so the core of this post is just to praise the excellent comms and service provided by Replica Metal Soldiers Andrew.

Here they are in its proper place with its officer and in reserve. Changed the colors of some pom-poms.

Andrew Stevens is a one man band and has a full daytime job and of course a family… so do not expect him to be FAST! (not shouting it is just emphasis)… but oh boy!… well worth the wait.

For those asking themselves about the officer I already had that one. They mix very well with the scale of Britain’s (of course) and particularly ok with Dorset Soldiers which since Giles sold and retired has not very good communications, I tried to buy from them and only got sorry excuses until I dropped the matter. Hope they got their bearings afresh in the nearer future.

This is a part of my hobby I do not indulge a lot anymore due to lack of space in the cabinets… but I manage to squeeze in something now and then.

Got 6mm Baccus Chasseurs d’Afrique and Spahis -thanks to Igor who suggested the proxies for the later- still searching for 4 toy soldiers in 54mm Spahis to complete my set.

That finish my Collection! (If I did not knew better…) But at least it is an actualized pic, compare if a fan of 54mm those in Collecting I and Collecting II posts).


The final Collection of The Household Division in 54mm + some extras.

Some specials from DORSET SOLDIERS.