Sometimes, but not always, I ponder about the futility of it all… I mean what’s the real (or imaginary) purpose of this web page?… to keep you entertained? (I mean people I do not know but surely have the same interests as me)… so, you have your daily ration of Toy Soldiers from me?… surely not… Is it me?… meaning do I have such a boring old life nowadays that I feel the need to communicate with the rest of the world to “justify” my last days giving away my experiences?… LOL (It has been a hot night damn it!). Summer is prone to those divagations… so I better end in a positive note… gonna try to finish reading the OSPREY: THE BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG 1863 (1) (they have promised two more volumes)… and for once they have nailed the text , the info, and AT LAST! the illustrations (and I mean the new art in colour) the old photographs we know by heart!… A book I can recommend without reservation.
25th of June… LBH day… so many different approaches to it in a long lifetime… at seven years of age I would have followed Errol Flynn anywhere (Custer or the real Custer was not important at all). As so many others I was hooked on THEY DIED WITH THEIR BOOTS ON… great Hollywood historical fiction… that Anthony Quinn (Crazy Horse) would end as a Catholic Pope on the flick THE FISHERMAN’S SHOES is not here not there… But I digress…
The Little Big Horn has a pathos of their own… we in Europe have Leonidas and the Thermopylae… Americans have Custer… If you read about a hundred of books on the matter (as I did) you will discover that Custer will die no matter what… and that he put himself and his battalion in a NO WIN-NO WIN situation.
The best books in my collection are those by Frederick Wagner III… you do not need to read much further than those. But there are other more general that are a good read too.
Of course at Seventy I would not have enlisted in the Seventh Cavalry in the first place… that is how time changes your perspective!
Honour the death (on both sides) of what will become the native american’s swan song…
Incidentally over the years I have build the 7th Cavalry in 15mm (MINIFIGS), 28mm (FOUNDRY), 75mm (PLAYMOBIL) and finally in 6mm (BACCUS proxies). A long life wargaming obsession…
Sadly I di not take pics of the impressive 15mm lot… a pity perhaps… sold them long time ago… if 15mm is your thing there are no better “Injuns” in the market than MINIFIGS… the 28mm FOUNDRY are the most “historically accurate”.
and last but not least the man himself (quite idealized I agree)
I will not resist the temptation and I adjoint my Playmobils too!
It finally has evolved in a long post today… but probably something in it would interest you (if you have read so far!).
A book that is “different” in such a way… that the “lessons” you learn are not the same at 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 or 70 years of age. I know because I have read it at those ages and the perspective changes a lot. A critic would accuse Wren of racism, xenofobia, antisemitism, prejudices, mysoginia, white (anglo-saxon) supremacy, his phobia about “mixing races” etc etc etc… but he penned a masterpiece about “the decent thing to do”. It’s a fictional novel but with “morals”, it is a novel of adventure (boy’s own) but only in the surface… it is a Police Mystery novel (a “polar” the French say) but not quite… is it a “love story” (only in a way)… it is a Military novel and the abuse of power… (not at all but it served me right when I did my compulsory military service in the Spanish Army when the Sahara was still in Spanish hands… 13 months of boredom… so I know what “le cafard” is first hand)… I recently gave copies of the book to my grandchildren… would they ever read it?… I do not know at all… but I have passed it away anyhow…
Hope they do a lavish edition for the Centenary of its first publication.
Somewhere else in this collection of posts I have already mentioned his great contribution to Toy Soldier literature (specially Britain’s), and still consider his book COLLECTING TOY SOLDIERS “the” reference book. Of course he advises Auctions and has a job connected with buying and selling items… but this is not here not there. He has (still) a fantastic collection (much revised and streamlined if you know what I mean). So he deserves a Post of his own. Enjoy.
Quite by chance yesterday I finished reading the Bruce Catton’s book on the ACW on the anniversary of Lee’s surrender -and the subsequent end of the ACW war to all purposes- I could quote from this concise (and to the point) resume the courage and bravery of the soldiers on both sides but as it is a well known fact there is not need. It is probably the best single book about the ACW I have ever read (do not search in it “Ride on you Wolverines” details…) it clearly puts on writing that it was a NO WIN NO WIN situation for the South from beginning to end… but it showed spirit and incredible feats (both faces: brilliancy and incompetence)… I have read Shelby Foote Trilogy and even him acknowledge the fact that the Union would have prevailed in the end no matter what. It is a recommended read that would leave you wanting for more… Enjoy
Incidentally yesterday was also the Shiloh anniversary.
After taking a peek at the Outro of my book I guess it is time to say that 6mm won. The decade or so that I toyed with Playmobils is gone forever, mind, it was FUN and no dealing (well a bit) with paints and rigid figures (lead toy soldiers have a definite “position” and you can not change it) was a novelty for me -of course I could not resist painting some extra details on them- but what was really amusing was to dissemble them and do other figures exchanging parts- that way you could get the soldiers Playmobil never produced (even if they produced the parts!).
So, the movements Up & Down in scale after a deep crisis with my beloved for years 25/28mm ended with an exclusive dedication to 6mm. I sold or gave as gifts to my grandchildren the vast majority of Playmobils and kept some for good old times sake. Currently in my office Cabinets there are only the Trooping of the Colour set, and the complete 7th Cavalry at the Little Big Horn (1/5 aprox scale)
Baccus 6mm has won the contest without doubt and it is a scale I am really satisfied with for wargaming purposes. Gone are the days of detail obsession, fear of derision at doing something wrong on the painting scheme (never painted “eyes” on my 25mm), the ever present search of the perfect set of rules, and other aspects that were nagging me as the lack of room to maneuver, the always secure flanks, the difficulty to present the tail of an Army, Lines of Communication and so on. There were intelligent tricks to represent all this on the tabletop in the larger scales… but got fed up with them in the end: dice to see if that flanking troops arrive!; dice to see in which place of the table!; take a chance card! etc. It was becoming Monopoly.
Maybe I should have explained earlier that for me not all the fun comes from winning a wargame, not anymore, it is equally interesting the disposition of forces in a marching Column, its movements, the scouting ahead and the flanks and rear, and the correct orders and ways to attack or pin down and flank an enemy position that a battle head to head so many times done in 25/28mm. I can move troops in 6mm! Suddenly couriers and vedettes have a meaning, where the troops “are placed” also, and moving them around is a serious business I enjoy. This of course is mainly done in small Colonial periods aka Punitive expeditions in the NW Frontier, Desert warfare in North Africa with the XIXth Corps (French you know), Tamai affairs (Osman Digna), Custer’s Battalion movements (an interesting mystery), Doomed Charges of Cavalry (or not), they all have the BONUS of space in my old tabletop. Of course that not exclude big battles as in the ACW period but are today less of an obsession and not the only target.
So, to sum up and end this post 2016 actualization:
1) I have a nice -for me- 54mm traditional New Toy Soldier Collection on display and add items to its themes very very slowly and carefully!… It is real interesting when I find a firm as Replicametalsoldiers&models (Andrew Stevenson) who can do “special things” on demand. No change of main themes in the offing, but toying of with my own version of A GENTLEMAN’S WAR with 54mm… will keep you posted about that (a 2020 project).
2) Playmobils are in my past. But I still skirmish or parade them when my grandchildren are in the mood… not often enough.
3) 6mm is my actual passion, I keep saying to myself: This is the last order… this is the last parcel to the painters… I have to write down some really good rules for 6mm just in case my brother turns up unexpectedly and we have a game like in the good old days… only reason why I built those ACW Rebels!.
4) The old Boardgames of my childhood have new figures (METAURO has Baccus 6mm), and Little Big Horn has kept the only 25/28mm figures I own today a mix of Dixon’s for the 7th and Old Tradition of London for the Native Americans… Nowadays waiting for the release of the Hostiles by Baccus to get even another possible way to game the LBH outside the limits of the old boardgame. Incidentally I must mention that I have over one hundred books about the LBH alone… quite obsessive about it! And even a couple of Hex based Boardgames like my brother enjoys!
And I hope that makes clear what I am up to at the beginning of 2020!, finally decided to build a 54mm force to “play with” NOT a cabinet display unit… jus a FUN purpose game. Blame Mr. Howard Whitehouse book “A GENTLEMAN’S WAR”.
For old Napoleonic good times sake let me recommend to you those imprescindible books by HEIMDAL… The French Line Infantry is due in May 2020. Still wondering if I will indulge on the period again… OMG!.
ACW was my first love, it still is, and thats that. The main reason of wargaming again the ACW (must be my sixth try), this time in 6mm, is because it is well balanced and a “compact period” 1861-1865.It all started with John Ford and the movie “THE HORSE SOLDIERS” which I saw so many times when a child that it left an everlasting impression, and I did not dig all the nuances until I was older, for me it is a masterpiece of condensation, nearly everything on the ACW is there. If you add to that my old 54mm soldiers, AIRFIX 20mm period, MINIFIGS, FOUNDRY. DIXON, TO THE REDOUBT, PLAYMOBILS and finally BACCUS… Well… Recurrent is the word you are looking for…
Of course it was not only the movies… I enjoyed reading SHELBY FOOTE three Volumes, a real tour de force! So packed with information that I had to read slowly to digest it -meaning I read a lot of other books at the same time- even about the ACW too!
Of course refighting historical battles as they do in LITTLE WARS TV is Ok, but I always enjoyed “doing my own”… it is very hard to simulate in the Tabletop the disinformation of the real Generals (The overestimation of The Southern Armies numbers by the Union Generals -aka little Mac- is a well know fact!). Still even so Bull Run (1st Manassas) is a favorite up to a point… But to be honest I mainly I build a scenario with a bit of fog of war, try to enlist some generals from my brother downwards and that’s it. Fictional battles are for me so much more fun after-all, in real war you can not pitch Stonewall Jackson against U.S.Grant for example… in real life they never fought each other.
But, apart from other lines of entertainment with Baccus figures, at the moment it is the ACW who wins all bets. I have the Armies, the scenery and the will, but must write some easy to understand home rules for my grandchildren, always have loved simple rules but with a twist some place.
So, to sum up my progression: I started wargaming when a kid in a rudimentary form on the floor with 54mm “rubber” soldiers (1). I then -in my early twenties-discovered the plastic AIRFIX whole range in 20mm -in fact 4 different boxes; Union Infantry (blue), Confederate Infantry (grey); Artillery (medium brown) to be used for both sides; and finally US Cavalry (Blue) that you had to paint for the Rebs- and went for them boxes like the quest of the Grail! (2).
In due time I discovered MINIFIGS 25mm, then based at Southampton, so I graduated to “metal” and their Catalogue (which I still have) was my companion for years! (3). I still recall the sorrow when a Zouaves unit got “lead rot” and become unusable… of course I dutifully bought them again and painted them even better… those were my painting years. Afflicted by a bout of Napoleonic megalomania I swapped my 25mm Union Army for my brother’s Napoleonics (same trade mark) to do not have to transport them up and down because we lived 200 Km away from each other. It was a satisfactory solution, and I went to complete all Napoleonics nations as a result.
Then FOUNDRY started an ACW range and I could not resist buying ACW UNION Cavalry under “THE HORSE SOLDIERS” influence, by then I was mixing riders and horses (Dixon) and making conversions -nearly military modeling- one thing lead to another and I got some Artillery… and then why not? some Infantry -you need some at Brandy Station I reasoned- of course I bought the Confederates too… That was my fourth effort! (4). Finally, crisis struck again and my faith in 25/28mm was shattered… regretfully I sold them all. Some of them -those Union painted by me- became property of my brother who had the Rebs and no crisis of confidence with that scale. We even exchanged some Napoleonic’s for them… I kept the 25mm Napoleonic’s longer than the rest… but they were sold too in the end!
With the funds obtained I started building Playmobil Armies for my (then) first two grandsons… once organized I thought it was a way to confront brother against brother in a too realistic way and scratched out the project… Sold them all again. (5) And went “tricorne era” fictional Playmobil Armies much more clean in spirit, and much more toy soldier like, a la Charles Grant Jr.
And where was I?… Reading Practical Wargamer… and there I found Baccus ACW Cavalry on the cover of one number!… nothing less than East Cavalry Field (again)… months of musing about it… I bought POLEMOS ACW rules from Baccus… and fell in l love with the color pics (eye candy) -Rules as it is I prefer my own as always- And then to make a long story short I went Baccus ACW 6mm for both sides (6).
Do not pity me!… I had tons of FUN in the whole process that lasted years and years… and I am certified as SANE.
So there you have it, I have build six times the period and have read a long list of books about it, by the way Paddy Griffith is very good at it!. There are two very good books to own by him: BATTLE IN THE CIVIL WAR Generalship and Tactics in America 1861-1865 with stunning artwork. And then BATTLE TACTICS OF THE CIVIL WAR. As per uniforms information the best to my knowledge apart from the Osprey’s, old Blanford, and Troiani’s and Kuntsler’s and Rocco’s paintings the best single volume is: La GUERRE de SECESSION Les armées de l’Union et de la Confederation- by HEIMDAL in France.
Now, as I have in my modest collection enough troops to have fun -megalomania is a pest to avoid- and all the references of the Baccus Catalogue! I am satisfied. I must confess the range is splendid and one of the best in Peter’s production.
I use the ACW limbers and caissons also in colonial affairs mind, and also the horses for dismounted Cavalry. I even have some Rapier Union Infantry to add a bit of variety to the collection and also Rapier Cavalry on both sides. I even mixed minis from other periods getting French with kepi from the Franco-Prussian Baccus range too… anything to add variety. Im my opinion one of the best Baccus packs is ACW7 because it has hat and kepi figures and some with rolled blankets across the chest -always a favorite of mine- so, if I started anew building Baccus ACW Armies I would surely get all the packs but ACW7 would have the lion’s share of the purchase (the only drawback is ACW7 has only one standard-bearer!).
If you are new to the period I can recommend:
ACW Filmography: GONE WITH THE WIND, THE HORSE SOLDIERS, GODS AND GENERALS, GETTYSBURG, THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE, THEY DIED WITH THEIR BOOTS ON, GLORY, MAJOR DUNDEE, SHENANDOAH, THE FIELD OF LOST SHOES, CLASS OF 61, RIDE WITH THE DEVIL and THE GOOD, THE BAD and THE UGLY… to name about a dozen… real fans should also see THE BIRTH OF A NATION and THE GENERAL (Buster Keaton) both silent movies.
ACW Bibliography: THE CIVIL WAR (Shelby Foote), THE CIVIL WAR (Bruce CATTON’S trilogy), CLASHES OF CAVALRY (Thom Hatch), BATTLE TACTICS OF THE CIVIL WAR (Paddy Griffith), BATTLE IN THE CIVIL WAR: GENERALSHIP AND TACTICS IN AMERICA 1861-65 (Paddy Griffith), DON TROIANI’S CIVIL WAR, BATTLEFIELD ATLAS OF THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR (Symonds), All Ospreys on the subject MAA and Campaign, “THE” Blandford book about Uniforms: UNIFORMS OF THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR 1861-65 -the first one I ever bought myself!- LA GUERRE DE SECESSION (HEIMDAL Jouineau-Mongin), THE QUEST FOR ANNIHILATION (Cristopher Perello), GETTYSBURG (Stephen W, Sears), GETTYSBURG: THE STORY OF THE BATTLE WITH MAPS (David Reisch and David M. Detweiler), THE CIVIL WAR: THE STORY OF THE WAR WITH MAPS (same), and of course hundreds more…
And as an afterthought on ACW Historical Fiction: THE KILLER ANGELS, SHILOH, THE HORSE SOLDIERS, CONFEDERATES, GONE WITH THE WIND, THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE, THE MARCH, STONEWALL’S GOLD, UNTO THIS HOUR, THE NORTHERN WOLF SERIES (5 books I guess) RUTLAND’S BLUES AND GREYS, CIVIL WAR STORIES (A.Bierce)… Frank Yerby, John Jakes, even the great Bernard Cornwell did 4 novels (probably not his best novels though) about it!
Well, this is the end of the ACW project. On the pics above you can see the results of pestering painters (and paying them of course!) the last two years. This is my more orthodox project so far, even have the POLEMOS rules (in fact it all started with a pic in the cover of Battlegames (nº15) featuring East Cavalry Field at Gettysburg!) then I bought the Polemos rules got hooked by the colour pics and the rest you know how it goes. Of course readers know that I did not stop there and added a lot more of Brigades of Infantry, Cavalry; Caissons, Wagons, Divisional Commanders and what not!… LOL (see elsewhere in this web page).
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.
The games you play are equal to the games you make…
I could not resist it, saying farewell and knowing when to quit is very difficult.
I have painted a “new old toy soldier”… a 54mm (ReplicaMetalSoldiers Andrew) a mounted Inspector General of the NWMP in a dark blue patrol jacket – I enjoyed so much the painting of it that I am currently pestering Andrew for a variation on the theme…- and all just because a childhood memory. I was very young when I got a box of mounties (I already had a lot of them) but in that one proudly in front of the lot there he was… a mountie with a dark blue tunic -and yellow gauntlets!- of course it was the commander of the unit!… I always had a crush for that figure (and of course never found one alike)… so in the end I decided to make my own and quite satisfied I am going full circle. Of course the original one was lost forever, but I have still 3 “mounties” over 65 years old.
I am going to update this post with pics and slowly edit the rest, meaning that I think there is always room for improvement.
It was a pleasure comparting posts here… and sure I will post more pics!… and edit existing posts but that’s all. To elaborate would be just a copy/ paste of what I said in my book “My Toy Soldiers and Me” so just peruse sometimes to see editions to come (of the posts of the blog not my book!).
Editing this blog would be much more interesting that writing new entries, just yesterday I got one half of my last REVEILLE Leven buildings (Daniel Hodgson is the chap you need for your scenery!), vaguely colonial they would be pressed into service at the battle of Maiwand, NWF and North of Africa indistinctly.
Renaming and ordering the Posts of the Blog by subjects and categories nowadays.
Summing up, my interests on “toy soldiers” are wide and large. I do not restrict my activities to a single field or even scale, neither period. No original at all, as you can imagine there is nothing more conservative than the Household Division to collect in 54mm, and the rest of my 54’s are in three main themes: French Foreign Legion (with some Chasseurs d’Afrique); Tel el Kebir/Rorke’s Drift aka Brits colonials before khaki; and last but not least NWMP/RCMP. As you can see in Collecting I the minis collected in 54mm have been subject to buy/sell, Scot Grey’s cometh and goeth, same with US Cavalry in gala uniform, Denmark Royal Guard, and some mat finish Spanish miniatures I had because a compulsory swap was made. That is Collecting for me, something alive but with periods of lethargy. Not Original at all I am afraid but a rewarding pastime.
I dedicated a chapter of my book to Collecting (my own experience mind) but the books you need is the one by James Opie: Collecting Toy Soldiers, and THE COLLECTOR’S GUIDE TO NEW TOY SOLDIERS by Stuart Asquith. The former has written many excellent books about Britain’s but THIS ONE is the best of all his production IMHO.
Guess it is time to start making lists again… first objective get the remaining ACW brigades organized (after a bit of checking up what minis I have used so far), deciding who is gonna paint what… and put a perspective into new projects, mainly completing “things” already exist… Will keep you posted.