Disorders

Military Modeling as a distraction…

Megalomania is a common affliction in the hobby, I have been infected by it several times in my long span messing with toy soldiers. Not a severe case mind, there are others much more sick that yours truly -I felt relieved when I knew about them- summing up it consists in a vague tendency to cope with too much by far, exceeding the limits of space, time, and also the patience of your relatives.

The tendency of taking a break from your main interest -be that what it may- because a certain tiresome feeling and repetition… or monotony on a certain period sometimes causes in the hobby what I call the sidetrack addiction. Wargamers when bored to death just start a new adventure -read period- instead of taking a holiday or try golf. they simply change scale (usually a mistake) or maybe try a new era.

Sometimes a Book opens new horizons… P.C.Wren mentioned them as I recall so I will have a go at them after all.

I have felt like a hamster on a wheel several times. But if your cage is spacious enough why not jump to that other wheel?. It is a well known fact that we are never satisfied by a single period, probably the mono thematic wargamer exists in some dark corner of the world and will be found before the extinction of the species… or dug out in the future who knows? but he or she is an exception to the rule.

Mr Sharpe and Sergeant Harper with the Light Co of the South Essex.

When confronted with boxes and boxes full of plastic bags with minis aplenty on your cupboard… say Napoleonic’s for a laugh!… you sigh and close the door. Then after “original” and sound reflexion you decide -eureka- that what you need is a breath of fresh air. You are not going to be unfaithful to your main interest! -perish the thought!- but what about trying that so different range of minis which of course been a minor period you will do just for fun. You have always wanted to raid in a Viking Ship!, or hunt buffalos!, or lead a small patrol in a skirmish, impersonate Sharpe, do a bit of swashbuckling… whatever…

Tatanka!

Now, If you have a main interest that surely has happened already… but what if you have several “main interests”… and keep sidetracking all the time?… You then pass from Megalomania to a Lead Tons Hoarder.

I guess not many of you have indulged in that!

Usually Megalomania starts with the well know syndrome of “if I had another battalion…” At the end of a game and seeing your troops leave the battlefield humbled and in more or less disarray the thought appeared to you as the magic solution! Increase the size of your Army!… that way if your left flank gives way you will plug the hole with your reserves… one can never have enough reserves (or Prussians as Wellington said an 18th June).

Seriously, and I am deadly serious, sidetracks are a lot of fun!… you know you will get to paint after difficult research that obscure Opolchenie Russian unit… but what about an Apache Raid?

Apaches!…Where is the cavalry?

This and superglued fingers are the two most common maladies of the wargamer, collectors do sidetrack too, and anyone involved in this pastime… even military modeler artists do stray from the “right” path sometimes.

As it is a non infectious thing and do not cause premature death -in fact it can save you from a dead of boredom- I will leave it like that for your consideration… only old wargamers can resist the temptation taking a look behind them and thinking UF! I already did that some time ago!

This band simply does not exist in the market, Gilles Brown from Dorset Soldiers did it for me using arms from Britain’s and Tradition of London kits (they did only fifes and drums you know!). I sold them and it was a heavy mistake!…I really miss them!… but I needed space in the cabinet and was a theme not related to anything else.
Pilots in distress…in North Africa.

ACW (III)

I wish I was at Joy of Six today… (not near me at all).

Stonewall Jackson

I wanted to explain -no need at all in fact- 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 an 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.

That clever Prussian-Helmuth Von Moltke- said he was not interested in “armed mobs chasing each other through the woods“, which as a definition of the war was short sighted.

Phil Sheridan

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, 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 (total war), 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… and it is “compact” meaning 1861-1865.

R.E.Lee

I enjoyed the Napoleonic period to the full but would not touch it again with a six foot Pole… -pun intended-). A veteran wargamer of the Napoleonic period can always claim his disgust of the long span of time covered and the CHANGES in uniforms and organization… etc. maybe one day I will write a Post about it, but it completely surpasses the lonely solo wargamer, I am convinced that you need a large Club to fully appreciate it, just the changes of uniforms and headgear on such a long period are a nightmare for me… the French Infantry used bicornes at Austerlitz… The British Heavy Cavalry in the Peninsula used also a different headgear as it was with the Infantry that had stovepipe shakos not usable in Waterloo… oh Dear! The more you read and learned the less exact were your wargames units in dress and composition…

Getting back to the point, and from a wargamer perspective even the sizes of the Armies are manageable, no LEIPZIG thank you!. And what is more you can use them indistinctly for the Eastern and Western theaters!

Rules aplenty exist -I work my own- and some 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…

U.S.Grant

Been solo has its rewards too. But I fondly remember a Napoleonic game I staged for several people a long time ago where commander and sub-commanders could only speak to each other (on the same side of course!) 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!.

So, let the ACW be with this last Post about it… will probably actualize the pics later on. As Groucho said: Your Honor I rest my case!

It has not rested a lot!… just today I ordered more Infantry from Mersey Wargames for 1st Bull Run/1st Manassas. Brigades with colours inverted … blue one’s with Reb Colours and grey one’s with Union Colours… to add to the confusion of the first battle!… Have to write a Post about Disorders or Megalomania too!… thought I was cured!…

ACW (II)

Just for the sake of it. Rebels deployed.

So, to sum up: I started wargaming in a rudimentary form on the floor with 54mm “rubber” soldiers (1). I then discovered the plastic AIRFIX whole range in 20mm -in fact 4 different boxes; Union Infantry (blue), Confederate Infantry (grey); Artillery (medium brown) 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). One day at the Tradition of London shop I asked for them and was politely informed that they did not stocked “plastic rubbish” -my first visit to a shop that later on was a fix appointment when in London- Then, after hard reflexion on the meaning of “rubbish” I discovered metal MINIFIGS -then based at SOUTHAMPTON near the Eye Hospital if I remember well- (3); the Armies grew and Old Glory were added to them, even some Hinchcliffe I think found their way into the ranks, and of course some old 25mm Tradition of London (made in Sweden). That was it for decades. I was proud and happy.

Then the 25mm too big to play area crisis caught me and I sold them nearly all. Some of them -those Union painted by me- became property of my brother who had the Rebs and no crisis of confidence. We even exchanged some Napoleonic’s for them… I kept the Napoleonic’s longer than the rest… but they were sold too in the end!

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… sold them all.

With the funds obtained I started building Playmobil Armies for my 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 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 and fell in l love with the color pics -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…

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, and there is an edition with English text I guess.

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, have put a limit to it and only 24 Union Brigades and 18 Confederate Brigades of Infantry make the nucleus, + Artillery -with limbers- (those limbers are used also in colonial affairs mind) and mounted and dismounted Cavalry. I even have some Rapier Union Infantry to add a bit of variety 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 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.

Enough for today. I provide old 6mm pics but will edit sometime this summer!

Union 6 Corps. -on the lid of a box!-
Confederacy 3 Corps.

ACW (I)

Our first “serious” ACW battle with Airfix plastic Armies (scenario by Charles Grant).

ACW was my first love, and thats that. Of course I did Napoleonic’s in 25mm MINIFIGS, but that was easy to understand too, everybody else did!… Imperial Guard!… Austerlitz!… Waterloo!… you named it… The IQ of Napoleon would have astounded a lot of people they say… but someone who invades Russia in 1812 with an “European conquered” Army must be a bit mad too. Ok, enough.

The main reason of wargaming again the ACW (must be my sixth time) this time in 6mm is because it is well balanced (not their arms mind, Infantry was already paramount and Artillery badly used still was important, Cavalry I just love but been realistic it was quite secondary.

Shiloh 25mm MINIFIGS.
MINIFIGS 25mm.

It all started with John Ford and THE HORSE SOLDIERS which I saw so many times when a child that 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 is there. If you add to that my old 54mm soldiers, AIRFIX 20mm period, MINIFIGS, FOUNDRY. DIXON, TO THE REDOUBT, PLAYMOBILS and finally BACCUS… Recurrent is the word you are looking for…

Grierson’s Raid.
Close up.

If I say that I am still reading SHELBY FOOTE IIIrd Volume you may be surprised, but no, it has a reason, in the meantime I have read lots of other books about that war and others, but there is such amount of info per page that I have to take it slowly and gusto.

Probably up to Gettysburg it has a feel of the Napoleonic Wars, fought by amateurs (as if they were not amateurs also in the Napoleonic wars… plenty of them!) learning hard lessons on the way. And after that it smacks a bit of WWI with all those trenches, fieldworks etc. DIG IN!… the King of Spades was Lee’s surname well before 1864!.

The Michigan Brigade at East Cavalry Field 1863.
Come on You Wolverines!

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 Generals (The overestimation of The Southern Armies numbers by the Union Generals is a well know fact!). Still Bull Run (1st Manassas) is still a favorite… but mainly I build an scenario with a bit of fog of war, try to enlist some generals from my brother downwards and that’s it.

There are a lot of other periods interesting of course!, Napoleonic’s dominated my wargaming life for thirty years… always have been tempted by the Franco-Prussian War (but it is so one-sided… hard to simulate the sheer incompetence of the French Army at Command level… and the Political intrigues!); there are very good books about this one. And the Uniforms are nice.

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.

Union Battery, mix of Foundry and Dixon 28mm.
Foundry Rebels, some are customized exchanging heads.
I build the Armies with Playmobils too!
Playmobil customized Zouaves 75mm.
Playmobil ACW Armies ready for shipping elsewhere…

Trooping the Colour

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

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

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

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

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

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

Playmobil variations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Little Big Horn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An useful FaceBook link is: Little Big Horn Discussion Group

or: https://www.facebook.com/groups/459982074026290/

Cheers.

After 2016… (III)

After taking a peek at the Outro of my book I guess it is time to say that 6mm won. The decade or so that I toyed with Playmobils is gone forever, mind, it was FUN and no dealing (well a bit) with paints and rigid figures (lead toy soldiers have a definite “position” and you can not change it) was a novelty for me -of course I could not resist painting some extra details on them- but what was really amusing was to dissemble them and do other figures exchanging parts- that way you could get the soldiers Playmobil never produced (even if they produced the parts!)… LOL

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

So, the movements Up & Down in scale after a deep crisis with my beloved for years 25/28mm ended with an exclusive dedication to 6mm. I sold or gave as gifts to my grandchildren the vast majority of Playmobils and kept some for good old times sake. Currently in my office Cabinets there are only the Trooping of the Colour set, and the complete 7th Cavalry… in fact there are also some customized Zulu War Playmobils nobody seems interested in buying! Baccus (mainly) 6mm has won the contest without doubt and it is a scale I am really satisfied with for wargaming purposes. Gone are the days of detail obsession, fear of derision at doing something wrong on the painting scheme, the ever present search of the perfect set of rules, and other aspects that were nagging me as the lack of room to maneuver, the always secure flanks, the difficulty to present the tail of an Army, Lines of Communication and so on. There were intelligent tricks to represent all this on the tabletop in the larger scales… but got fed up with them in the end: dice to see if that flanking troops arrive!; dice to see in which place of the table!; take a chance card! etc. It was becoming Monopoly.

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

Maybe I should have explained earlier that for me not all the fun comes from winning a wargame, not anymore, it is equally interesting the disposition of forces in a marching Column, its movements, the scouting ahead and the flanks and rear, and the correct orders and ways to attack or pin down and flank an enemy position that a battle head to head so many times done in 25/28mm. I can move troops in 6mm! Suddenly couriers and vedettes have a meaning, where the troops “are placed” also, and moving them around is a serious business I enjoy. This of course is mainly done in small Colonial periods aka Punitive expeditions in the NW Frontier, Desert warfare in North Africa with the XIXth Corps (French you know), Tamai affairs (Osman Digna), Custer’s Battalion movements (an interesting mystery), Doomed Charges of Cavalry (or not), they all have the BONUS of space in my old tabletop. Of course that not exclude big battles as in the ACW period but are today less of an obsession and the only target.

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

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

1) I have a nice 54mm traditional New Toy Soldier Collection on display and add items to its themes very very slowly and carefully!… It is real interesting when I find a firm as Replicametalsoldiers&models (Andrew Stevenson) who can do “special things” on demand… lurking in the hopefully not too distant future is a squadron of Chasseurs d’Afrique -as you know that has been done-. No change of main themes in the offing.

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

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

Naval battles no more…

3) 6mm is my actual passion, I keep saying to myself: This is the last order… this is the last parcel to the painters… I have to write down some really good rules for 6mm just in case my brother turns up unexpectedly and we have a game like in the good old days… only reason why I built those ACW Rebels!.

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

4) The old Boardgames of my childhood have new figures (METAURO has Baccus 6mm), and Little Big Horn has kept the only 25/28mm figures I own today a mix of Dixon’s for the 7th and Old Tradition of London for the Native Americans (Politically Correct nowadays!… it seems injuns or hostiles is not quite appropiate…).

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

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

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

Collecting Toy Soldiers I

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If I had to start again…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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