Not all of the restrictions of the pandemic are a boring thing, in fact it has given me time to do things I have done on my mind for several years and never materialized because of lack of time and sheer laziness. The normal live I live keep postponing those things ad infinitum.
To begin at the beginning, I have always had a set of building bricks called EXIN CASTILLOS, it was a wonderful Spanish toy of the sixties, I played with them and build castles, so did my children when young because I purchased sets for them (nowadays have done so with my grandchildren too), one day of “cleaning up” at home I rescued the discarded sets of mine&my children from the list of things to throw away, put them in a box and stored them in my (then) office waiting for better days.
In the meantime my collection of Dorset Soldiers (thanks again to Giles Brown) was slowly growing up and the French Foreign Legion in action poses (mainly) occupied three shelves of one of the cabinets in Pal. So, one day I took the box from my office, cleaned the plastic pieces with soap&water and produced a mini ZINDERNEUF in 54mm to play with my Dorset Soldiers set. On another trip I had brought to Pal my camera/tripod etc.
This is the result: a solo game I play against “time”, will the arabs kill all the defenders of the fort before help from Tokotu arrives? Will “Beau” and “John” survive as long as in the novel?.
By the way, if you considere the BEAU GESTE trilogy (in fact five books and some extra short stories!) too old fashioned for you, you simply pass…
Now, that was fun!, it has been years since I did a model with those blocks!, it’s like riding a bycicle… you never forget those tricks with the bricks.
I have done it in 6mm (still in my Baccus collection), 28mm (To The Redoubt… sold), 54mm (Dorset Soldiers) and in 75mm with Playmobils (now in the collections of my grandchildren).
Yesterday, and the day before, I included some pics of the French Foreign Legion in my post, well, let’s go through with it, I am a fan of this elite corps since I read the novel –Beau Geste– when a child, in fact I read the whole trilogy -which is not a trilogy- Beau Geste – Beau Sabreur – Beau Ideal (connoisseurs know there are two more books about the Geste brothers Good Gestes and Spanish Maine*). Ever since I have not resisted the impulse to buy minis related to it and that’s that. Whatever my main wargame interest or collector fancy, there are always FFL soldiers in it. *The Desert Heritage in the USA.
So to make a clean sweep of this particular topic I will give you today the pics that shows my love for it -Legio Patria Nostra- a very particular elite mercenary unit which incidentally serves under the French Flag of Madame la Republique.
I have had Rubber India 54mm soldiers, 25mm Minifigs proxies, 28mm To The Redoubt, 54mm Dorset Soldiers, never got the Airfix box because I did not found it in the shops when visiting England, 54mm Military Modelling stuff from Andrea Miniatures, and I had to build them in GodsOwnScale (6mm) using proxies (see other posts), and of course customized Playmobils!
Too many pics probably… but this takes out of the way a personal passion (mania) which would have appeared recurrently on the blog. This is it and we forget about the FFL. Curiously enough I did my own compulsory military service in Spain in the (then) Spanish Sahara… so I know a bit about the desert myself. Always have tried that my sons and grandsons did not get the chance to repeat such a silly ordeal… and I still like P.C.Wren.
I did start with two Regiments of the French Foreign Legion -how not- afterwards come a Regiment of Chasseurs d’Afrique (Cavalry)… but was at a loss on how to get the Spahis until Igor suggested an obscure pack of WWI Irregular Arab Cavalry!… well, I ordered, organized and modified a bit!, sent to the painters (MERSEY WARGAMES aka Greg), and at the same time asked for Zouaves (European troops) and Turcos (Native troops).
The parcel arrived today. See pic. -There are also some ACW stands that would be the subject of another post).
I did remake the officers of Spahis with POSKA markers -they deliver paint- and added white lines to the burnous and a black line on the headgear. Not much to do with Turcos and Zouaves… slight retouching and adding flags.
I guess the pics are quite self explanatory. There are some special measure stands for skirmishers, rallying squares for both Turcos and Zouaves… and the rest are ACW.
Thought it would be interesting for other colonial wargamers of the late XIXth Century in North Africa. In other posts I have showed the FFL and the Chasseurs d’Afrique. See below.
200 years… and still present in our collective memory for what it was… a genius (with faults and virtues) and I personally think quite ahead of its time. Nobody seriously studies Napoleon without noticing that it was not exclusively Napoleon fighting offensive wars (mainly) but defending France against old monarchies coalitions because of the ideas (seen as dangerous) of the French Revolution (which has also controversy attached). Of course having a military background (after all he was an Artillery Officer) and following the European tradition that Clausewitz will formulate a posteriori he went to war frequently enough (understatement) as it was the custom in Europe, nowadays he is still remembered for his Civil Code (nearly 200 years of life) and abolishing feudal privileges. He also reinstated slavery in the Caribbean Sea (to his shame). He was not perfect but had a great brain and “je ne sais quoi”.
This post has really a lot of pics!
Napoleonic wargaming was my passion for almost thirty years, in 25mm because I was stupid enough to do not choose 15mm in the first place (minis in the late seventies had no such vast offer and traders… even if MINIFIGS did 15mm too!) so MINIFIGS 25mm (after all I was coming down from 54mm) I went I and no regrets, was quite happy with my collection who also extended to other periods and wars (I though it would be very difficult to paint such small figures in 15mm because of the lavish uniforms of the napoleonic wars!).
Was interested for many years (obsessed is a better description) with the battle of Waterloo, could the Emperor have won? In context and after years of reading about it, I arrived at the conclusion that it was a NO WIN – NO WIN situation, it would have been 1813 all over again… with Austrians and Russians and what not invading France which was exhausted… and that’s that.
Have some pics of my years indulging in that particular wargamers fetish.
After a deep crisis with 25mm wargaming I sold them all. After some years toying with Playmobil (75mm) conversions and quite classical 54mm toy soldier collecting I went back to wargaming but in 6mm this time! (see the other Posts). Cheers
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.
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.
Today we had lots of snow in Andorra, so my grandsons did not went to school (as on the Calvin&Hobbes comic strip). Then we went to my old office (on the first floor) and we played or toyed a bit with Playmobils.
They’re changing guard at Buckingham Palace – Christopher Robin went down with Alice. Alice is marrying one of the guard. “A soldier’s life is terrible hard,” Says Alice.
They’re changing guard at Buckingham Palace – Christopher Robin went down with Alice. We looked for the Queen, but she never came. “Well, God take care of her, all the same,” Says Alice.
We had a great time, because afterwards I gave them the EXIN CASTLES box full of bricks/things to play… and each one of them did their own thing… bits of castles everywhere now…
After a bit of time has passed… I do not really know who was entertaining who…
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 (front traction) 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 -https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Y8KYaO-83o-, 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.
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), I did the 7th at the LBH (still in my hands but for sale), 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 that were also sold. It was real FUN.
I explained it all quite in detail in my book but it is a lot easier to include pics in a blog.
As a summing up of the periods I was involved with in the decade or so I toyed with original Playmobils and customized a lot of them (to avoid enamels or painting a lot) with stickers, some felt pen additions and resin parts (mainly headgear), here you have a collection of pics quite self-explanation in themselves.
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.
Unexpected maybe by you… and needed or not, I am going to elaborate a bit with my Baccus experience for your profit. If someone has read all the posts in this present blog it would not be much surprised by it but I have always indulged in summing up. As it is, I would arrange in chronological order my interest in the Baccus ranges, but you must understand the “context”, if instead of being nearly seventy I was in my thirties I would have gone Napoleonic straight away!… So my Baccus interests are much prejudiced by what I did on 25/28mm and become bored with… so no Zulu War this time… (read Daniel Hodgson – REVEILLE on FaceBook…he is doing it to perfection!)
Curiously enough, after selling my 25/28mm collection and in the middle of my ten years (on and off) interest on Playmobils (customs) I started a new interest for the 6mm scale, and was surprised by the sheer quality Baccus had achieved while I was distracted by other things. So, wanting to do BIG battles (ACW) and also BIG units (Colonials) for a change I went for it!… Mind, it was not my first experience with 1/300, I once, many years ago, painted a hundred or so French Cuirassiers which I finally sold via eBay because I never thought about bigger bases!… then I went 25mm Minifigs (many periods) and the rest is in my past.
I did the Crimean Light Cavalry Brigade using Baccus proxies suggested by Peter (who was very helpful… of course later I always took that for granted!), and I painted and based the lot myself. I was much pleased with the result. But I put them on the cabinet and did not go on with further developments of that period. So, even if I had a British Army in 28mm with both the Heavy and Light Brigades of Cavalry and Infantry & Artillery… and some multipurpose units for the French Allies… (I did not ever build the Russian Army and neither Turks or Sardinians for that matter)… I did not want to repeat the experience in 6mm. At that late time of my 28mm scale involvement it was more collecting, converting and military modelling… instead of proper wargaming (not even solo). I simply could not resist the nice Foundry range. Of course the intention of building this unit in 6mm is to have a game with it… my own rules… quite role playing… and obsessed by the possibility of getting the orders clear and go for the right guns… always “what if” in mind you all know.
Even if the later were a success I was concerned by the smallness of the Infantry figures, so I did not paint myself the second try… I simply ordered them painted from an eBay seller. I used 30x30mm Baccus bases to get the “counters” for an ancient boardgame about the Second Punic War battle of Metauro. The original plastic figures on the boardgame were 54mm, and the paint peeled a lot, lost forever by the use of successive generations… I once bought 28mm Greeks from Foundry (painted extraordinarily well in Madrid by the chaps at Atlantica Juegos) for both sides, trying to have a go at the Peloponessian War… but did not had the feel of the original Metauro game (even if the original did not had Gauls at all!) so when I sold my collection they parted too. Now I have Republican Rome and Carthaginian and Allies properly bathtubed, but this is as far as my interest goes for Ancients. That proved to me that Baccus Infantry was OK.
That prompted me to have a go at the Little Big Horn (yet again), but only concentrating the effort on Custer’s Battalion (Companies C,E,F,I,L and HQ), having the command mounted, skirmish line and last stand bases. I converted ACW Baccus proxies (just scratching out the sabers) and then sent to Mersey Wargames painting service. I enjoyed the result.
So, I went also British Colonial in Kaki, because I did not do them to the full in 25mm (in my time) and was much more nowadays interested in Maiwand/Kandahar; and the North West Frontier that going ZULU again. Incidentally I do with them the Sudan (Osman Digna British Squares affairs but also Abu Klea and Abu Kru etc) and I know Peter does an specific range for the Camel Corps… but I only bought the” pack camel minis”… in that scale in the desert my minis look the part without no need to repeat them in dusty light grey jackets! Better invest the money and time of the painters on other projects! In fact it is quite unfair to pester Peter about new packs or ranges when he does lots of periods and minis we simply pass from buying… the producer/designer nightmare I guess. And I am an example of how to use Baccus existing ranges to do my “own pet projects” in a quite heterodox way… even if I can be almost fully orthodox with a period like the ACW.
After seeing the results of my Colonial buys I decided to get a proper period in an orthodox form so to play with an opponent -be that my brother or other member of the family- so I choosed the ACW because it was my first love – thanks to the film THE HORSE SOLDIERS-and the minis and range of Baccus is quite complete (to say the least) even if I spruced the thing with Baccus proxies from their Franco-Prussian War range and even some Rapier minis. I dutifully bought ACW POLEMOS and also Altar of Freedom from the LITTLE WARS TV chaps (but I did not like their bathtubing of Gettysburg for instance… specially the Artillery present on the Confederate side… and NO I do not put Brigades over the top of the tress or woods); not much of a problem because I always tamper with the rules and do my own bathtubing no matter what!. Even so it is my largest (by far) and most typical wargaming approach of the lot. Nowadays finished building the Armies etc. -maybe shall post pics of the whole affair-
6 mm let me do “one off” adventures in a very non expensive way so I have a Prussian Cavalry Brigade from the Franco-Prussian War. Von Bredow’s own… “The Death Ride” etc. No way I am going to wargame the Franco-Prussian War, I have read enough about it and have nice Books about the Uniforms (a pleasure to see), but I found impossible to recreate the incompetence, jealousies and ambitions bordering treason of the French High Command. The Prussians mobilization and “modern” staff approach was a walk over even if they took a lot of risks and got more than one bloody nose in the process. Not for me thanks. BUT the famous charge kept the Cavalry in the Armies for fifty years more… IMHO it was already obsolete by Waterloo times as such… mounted infantry would replace them and with other tasks, gone were the days of the Cavalry as a Shock Weapon…
In parallel, I did the French XIXth Corps d’Afrique starting with French Foreign Legion -I always do the French Foreign Legion it is a mania- and followed by Chasseurs d’Afrique, Zouaves, Turcos and Spahis (thanks to Igor who suggested the proxies I had not perceived in the Baccus Catalogue!). Reveille is even doing a Zinderneuf outpost using pieces from Leven and small bases by Pendraken -another of my recurrent filias- No matter the scale my pet subjects are always the same as I suspect happens with a lot of wargamers.
After having an attack of second thoughts about Napoleonics, I was able to swap my interests at the last minute to Trees (badly needed) and wagons and pioneers all periods covered ACW and Colonials mainly.
Ranges from the Baccus Catalogue from whom I have bought items:
The Romans (Second Punic War); Napoleonic’s (Crimean proxies… so far I have avoided the real Napoleonic period… but it was a near run thing); American Civil War (like Coke the real thing!); Franco-Prussian War (proxies for ACW, French Foreign Legion, and even a Prussian Cavalry Brigade); Scenic items (XIXth century); Colonials; Bases and Basing Materials; Great War (proxies for my North West Frontier period); Equipment (quite multipurpose); Wargames Rules.
And also: Some ACW Rapier (not bad at all and they do mix well with Baccus… specially if you cut out the bayonets…) and of course lots of LEVEN and BACCUS buildings and accessories.