Sunday, May 21, 2017

Paint Table Sunday and goodbye to TMP

I have managed a bit of painting this weekend and my first company of Perry plastic Confederates are at the varnishing stage.  I need to make sure the varnish is OK. first, though! Since I started these, Eric the Shed has painted hundreds of fantastic looking Napoleonic British, though.   I wish I could paint faster.  These ACW figures were supposed to be an experiment in quick, wargames standard painting but it has not been a success!

Anyway, I have started on the second company of nine figures.  I have 18 companies of nine to do altogether!  I am managing to focus quite well, though, by alternating with the North West Frontier and these are the last nine figures I need for my initial The Men Who Would be Kings British force.  I based some more Perry Afghans last week too and my Perry mountain gun arrived too.

Today I hoped to get quite a bit of painting done as it was nice and bright.  The Old Bat, however, started grumbling about the front lawn needing a cut, though.  I refused to do that and told her that gardening was her job.  Then I had to do the supermarket shopping (with added vegetarian nonsense as Charlotte has returned from Edinburgh) and this involved two hours at two different supermarkets this morning (because the two of them are so fussy about which particular food has to come from which supermarket).  

Then, after a quick mozzarella and prosciutto sandwich with the start of today's Giro d'Italia stage, I had to take a load of garden rubbish to the dump and there was a huge queue. The Old Bat loves the new shop at the dump where, instead of taking rubbish out the house, you give good money to the French for someone else's rubbish. Today she reserved a garden umbrella stand.  Except we don't have a garden umbrella so now she is bidding for one on eBay.  This will now destroy any chance of us having a nice summer.  It looks like I may have to go back to Botswana between now and the end of August, which is annoying as I have to fit it around my week's holiday in Cowes but can't control when I go as that is up to the President of Botswana.  

This week, after thinking about it for some time, I have decided that I am finished with The Miniatures Page.  This week the editor posted this as a topic:

While I'm in a pensive mood (grin) what's with the small but vocal minority of British wargamers who resent sharing their hobby with anyone else? They sneer at wargamers from other places and their contemptible views. They act as if the hobby belongs to a single country. I've never seen this from any other nationality. Australians, French, Germans, Canadians, Americans? Happy to share. This applies to TMP, in that I get a steady line of criticism that TMP is 'not British' or 'anti-British' or 'should use GMT' or just somehow unacceptable because we're not headquartered in the U.K. If you're from the U.K.: Do you see British wargamers who are like this? How common are they? What causes this?

I was so incensed about this I did actually post a reply (above) and found myself unexpectedly supported by John Treadaway (I only discovered this from the poisonous Frothers, when someone pointed it out to me).  It seems to me that dissing (to use an American term) British wargamers, who make up the second largest national group on TMP is akin to budget jewellery boss Gerald Ratner saying his products were 'crap'.  British wargamers reacted with polite incredulity but that didn't stop the increasingly wayward owner/editor of the site deleting people's accounts (some two dozen have been terminated).  I won't go into the peculiar personality traits displayed by the editor but I have now removed TMP from my bookmarks bar and replaced it with the Lead Adventure Forum.  I already feel more relaxed.

I didn't, in the end, buy in to The Drowned Earth Kickstarter, despite some really lovely miniatures and instead will concentrate my energies on the imminent Lucid Eye Savage Core rules by Steve Saleh, to support his miniatures line.  This will give me all the jungly fun I need, without the need to spend a fortune on SF buildings, and it seems that forces will be quite small too (less than ten) a side.  The rules are imminent, it seems.  

I now have a big shoe box full of potential jungle scenery and all I have to do is work out how to attach it to the CDs I am going to use as scenic bases.  I like the CDs as they are thin and avoid the 'big step' look of MDF or hardboard.  I still haven't bought a hot glue gun yet (I try to avoid going into B&Q as it makes me feel uncomfortable) , although at least the Old Bat knows how to use one.

I didn't buy Crooked Dice's female minions at Salute but now they have previewed something even more desirable - female cultists,  These will work with my In Her Majesty's Name cultists, provided I paint some Victorian style laces on their boots!

Having discovered that my cable package includes Eurosport (I had no idea) I have been enjoying the Giro d'Italia and with it some appropriate food and wine.  It's actually quite difficult to get a good selection of Italian wine in supermarkets these days but I have matched regional wine with many of the stages.  I need to plan for the Tour de France in advance.  With Eurosport I will be able to watch the Vuelta too, although that will be tricky to match food and wine as I am boycotting Spanish produce.  I did write a piece on one of my favourite Spanish  recipes during last year's race but didn't quite finish it, so I will hold it over until August.

Italian music today. too. with Charles Dutoit's excellent recording of Resphigi's Pines of Rome, Fountains of Rome and Roman Festivals.  All very nostalgic of the long periods I spent in Rome in the late eighties and early nineties, where I lived in either the Excelsior Hotel (as featured in the film La Dolce Vita) or the Grand Hotel (designed by César Ritz in typical restrained style).  The opening piece of the CD is I Pini di Villa Borghese.  The Borghese Gardens were a short walk up the Via Veneto from the Excelsior and contain the Borghese Gallery which is full of the work of my favourite sculptor, Gian Lorenzo Bernini.  I used to spend a lot of time in the Borghese Gardens (there was a big gym underneath it which my gym in London was a reciprocal member of) and I used to go running there when I was training for the 1987 London Marathon.

A very thin and fit Legatus, photographed by an Italian princess in 1986

I knew several lovely Italian princesses at the time and one of them was a Borghese, who I first met when I sat next to her at a dinner party, where the host served spring onions (which appeared to be something of a novelty to the Italians) as a starter.  She picked one up, looked at me and crunched the head off.  "I like strong things!" she growled.  Splendid girl.  She was a direct descendant of the man who was married to Paulina Borghese, Napoleon's sister.

The fourth piece of the Pines of Rome is I Pini della via Appia Antica and on my longer weekend runs I used to run out of Rome along the old part of the Via Appia Antica, which still has its Roman stone surface.  This piece is a depiction of the marching of a ghostly Roman legion, so is excellent for painting Romans to!  I haven't started my Victrix EIR figures yet, as I know if I start them I will get distracted from the ones I should be doing.  I might take them to Cowes.

Nude (1873)

Today's wallpaper is also Italian and is a painting by Vito d'Ancona (1825-1894) who specialised in portraits and landscapes.  He also fought as a volunteer in Garibaldi's army in 1848.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Something for (what's left of) the weekend: Eurovision babes.

My eagerly awaited analysis of some of the key Eurovision babes is here, on my Legatus' Wargames Ladies blog.  No painting this weekend due to jobs and work (and writing about Eurovision babes), sadly. although I did base half a dozen Perry Afghans.

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Paint Table Saturday: North West Frontier and mud-brick houses

Sadly, I didn't get my first company of ACW Confederates finished over the long weekend, due to tedious family commitments, although I did get some progress made on them.  So this weekend's plan is to get these first nine figures finished.

Also on the go at the present are the last nine figures for my TMWWBK 1878 North West Frontier force.  These are six British infantry, to complete the two units of the 70th foot and three Sikh gunners.  The weather wasn't brilliant again first thing this morning but it looks like iis brightens up now.

The missing element has been the mountain gun for the Sikh artillery, which I ordered back in February.  The crew arrived but not the gun.  There was no explanation from North Star and I had to ring them up.  They told me that they had been having 'production difficulties' with all the Artizan artillery. Anyway, the gun turned up this week, although it has something of a bendy barrel, which I hope I can straighten.

More annoying is that this gun appears to be the RML 2.5" mountain gun which didn't enter service until 1879 and my force is designed for 1878.  On The Mminiatures Page at the moment there is a poll which, essentially, asks if you are fussy about historical accuracy in your wargames armies. There were people who said things like "I can't be worried about the difference between a Belgic or stovepipe shako"  What?  This is a historical hobby not Hollywood!  I am compelled to get things as correct as I possibly can. 

Anyway, I sent off for the Perry Afghans with mountain gun set (and some more Confederates in frock coats) as this appears to be the 7lb gun which was used before the RML 2.5" was introduced, so it was in service in 1878.  I will use it with my Sikh crew, therefore.  Here we have some Sikh artillery with a 7lb gun.  What it means, though, is that I still don't have all the elements of my British force yet,

When the light is too poor to enable me to paint I have been working on my Renedra mud-brick house, which I bought at Salute last year.  I am hoping to use this for games set in the Sudan, Egypt, Afghanistan and Darkest Africa.   Looking at the box it looked like a very nice model and has something of the old Airfix Fort Sahara about it.  One of the things I am often tempted by is some sort of French Foreign Legion escapades and there are good ranges from Unfeasibly (although beware the latter's postal service - best to order them from Mike at Black Hat Miniatures) and Artizan but I have resisted so far!

Once you start to put the thing together, however, the experience is less happy.  This is the fourth Renedra building I have made and the least satisfactory from a construction point of view.  The first one I built was the ramshackle barn which was OK to put together, although the roof never fitted properly.  It was also rather flimsy and needed a base (I  don't like bases on buildings).  Next I made the American Church (the best of the four for fit) and the American store which needed a bit of filling but not too much, really.

The mud-brick house was, however, a pig to do.  The parts didn't fit well at all and the separate components, like the little wall and the stairs, took no account of the wavy surface of the main building's walls.  There was barely enough plastic from these pieces to contact the main house and have enough glued surfaces to make a strong fit.  Once the pieces were stuck I then dribbled more plastic cement down the joins to help bridge the gap.

In the end, however, I had to resort to a lot of Humbrol plastic filler.  Now this is what I cover my figures' bases with, usually but it is designed for plastic kits and I used to use it for its proper purpose when I use to make 1/72 aeroplane kits.  Usually, with those, you only needed  a bit along the wing roots and down the fuselage centre line but the mud-brick house needed more filler than Amanda Holden's face.

Fortunately, the filler apes the surface of the building so when it was undercoated it actually didn't look too bad.  Somewhere I have the accessory kit which gives you a dome and a canopy, which I bought in Orc's Nest, but I have no idea where it is.  I will buy at least one more, despite it's shortcomings, as by flipping the front and back parts you can have the stairs on the other side.  In fact Renedra offer two at a discount so I could build a domed one and a flipped one.  Not looking forward to it, though.

The question, then, is what colour to paint it?  Mud bricks vary depending on the mud, of course and I did start looking at different mud brick buildings in different parts of the world to see if I needed to paint them differently, depending on where they were supposed to be located..  This, I decided, was insane, so I am going for the Egypt/Palestine look (above) which is pretty spot on for Humbrol 121, which is the colour I paint the bases of my figures for these hot countries with.  They seem to be mostly rendered in more mud rather that the bright white you see in the Middle East.  I am going to paint the ready made model and the 4Ground one in the same colour.

Oxshott brickworks (demolished in 1958)

 The area today - just more million pound houses (except the ones which back onto the old clay pit which cost twice that!)

Talking of mud bricks, we bagged up the soil from where the Old Bat dug out her new pond and took it to the dump (sorry, waste re-cycling station). The earth in our garden is clay and is not nice granular Monty Don Gardner's World type soil but you have to dig it out with a pickaxe and it comes out in hard-packed, grapefruit sized lumps.  There is a reason that there used to be a big brickworks in Oxshott, although today only the clay pit is left.  We took these to the dump (sorry, waste re-cycling station) and were told that we would now have to pay £4 a bag to leave it in the skip there and we had six bags.  We are allowed one free bag a day, we were told, so I asked if we could come back for the next five days and dump the rest for free and they said that would be fine. I couldn't dump them all at once, even thought they will likely end up in the same skip. The logic of this escapes me. It's the same amount of earth going in the same place but by polluting the environment with five extra car journeys it's free, whereas dumping it in one go would have cost an extra £20. That's a box of Perry ACW artillery, I thought, as we drove the bags back home again.

I was in London the next day so decided to walk from Waterloo to Dark Sphere and see if they had a box of Perry Artillery.  Having trudged all the way there I found it closed due to a power cut.  Grr!  So (take that Mr Treadaway) I trudged all the way back again.  I was very early for my lunch with my former PA (or 'Mexicans' as I told the Old Bat) so I walked across Hungerford Bridge, for the exercise (two runs last week) and headed up Charing Cross Road towards Orc's Nest.  This was fatal as I stopped off in one of the second hand bookshops and acquired books on Gustav Klimt's drawings and late nineteenth century and early twentieth century erotic (well, saucy rather than erotic, really) postcards.

Pork and black pudding.  Yum,yum!

I got to Orc's Nest and bought my Perry artillery there, although it was more expensive than it would have been in Dark Sphere ,who usually offer a 10% discount.  We had lunch in the Portrait Restaurant in the National Portrait Galley, which I hadn't been to before but is a favourite of my sister..  In fact, I can't have been to the NPG for decades as they have a whole big modern extension I don't remember at all. I chose the NPG because I don't like the new decor at the National Gallery Cafe, my previous favourite in the area.  The only problem with the Portrait Restaurant is that it is so popular you can't just turn up.  I booked five days ahead and the earliest booking we could get was 1.45pm.

The restaurant has a wonderful view over the rooftops of the National Gallery next door and across to Nelson's Column and the Houses of Parliament.  The food and service is truly excellent.  They indicated, when booking, that you would only get an hour and a half slot (I hate that, who can eat a proper lunch in an hour and a half?) but we were still there at four thirty and we never felt hurried..

Today's music is a recording I have been looking for for ages, as it is not available as a digital download but I managed to get the (imported) CD.  It is John Lill's Brahm's Second Piano Concerto; a live recording of his winning performance at the 1970 Tchaikovsky Piano Competition.  I first heard this performance on a record I borrowed from Ashford Library when I was about twelve.  Although I have a very good performance by Ashkenazy with Haitink and despite Rozhdestvensky's USSR Radio Symphony Orchestra sounding a bit like a chamber orchestra, Lill's performance, especially in the second movement, is electric.  I don't usually like live recordings but this is excellent.

Tropic evening (1933)

Today's artistic distraction comes from one of America's finest illustrators, John LaGatta (1894-1977).  LaGatta was born in Naples in 1894 and after his family moved to New York studied art at the New York School of Fine and Applied Arts, having first started off in his father's jewellery business. He first came to prominence during the period of the First World War, going on to do illustrations for the likes of Life, Saturday Evening Post, Ladies Home Journal and Cosmopolitan, together with advertising work. In 1916 he joined the Amsden commercial studio and never looked back. Unlike many later illustrators, who worked from photographs, LaGatta always used models, who he carefully selected himself.  LaGatta's family, although having aristocratic lineage, were very poor and later in life, as a successful illustrator, Lagatta very much appreciated the finer things in life. At the beginning of World War 2, LaGatta moved to California and taught at the Art Center School in Los Angeles. He died in 1977.

Women were very much LaGatta's favourite subject and even when depicting women in clothes (as he largely had to do for his magazine and advertising clients) his approach was unbelievably slinky; delivering some of the most sensual paintings of women ever produced.   Perhaps surprisingly, this rather daring nude was produced for a lipstick advertisement in 1933; one of a series he did in the late twenties and early thirties.  I can't see you being able to get away with an image like this in an American women's magazine today!

Friday, May 05, 2017

Something for the Weekend: Madrine of the Giro d'Italia

Giorgia Palmas Madrina for 2017

It is the 100th anniversary of the Giro d'Italia cycle race, which starts today in Sardinia, so what better way to celebrate than look at the ladies the politically incorrect Giro organisers nominate to act as madrina (godmother) of the race.  If you want to see all the ladies back to 2010, when this old tradition was revived, wearing rather less clothes than this then visit my Legatus' Wargames Ladies blog here.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Paint Table Saturday and a Blast from the Past

Well, it's Salute plus one week and I have a long weekend to get some painting done.  One of the things I am aiming to achieve this week is to assemble my Renedra Mud Brick house and look at the colour scheme I might need for it, so I have been looking at lots of pictures of these buildings in Egypt and Afghanistan.  They will also work for the Arab settled parts of Africa too.  As far as my Salute purchases go I have filed and based my Iron Duke Indian Mutiny British Command, my ACW Confederates in Frock coats and some Perry Afghans.  I haven't touched the Victrix Romans yet as if I open those I know I will get completely distracted.  Rather annoyingly, I bought a set of Little Big Men shield transfers for these at Salute and only a few days afterwards they brought out transfers for Legio II Augusta.  This was the unit Cato and Macro, from Simon Scarrow's books, served in in Britain and a few years ago LBM kindly made me some Legio II shield transfers for the Warlord plastics as they didn't have them.  I will have to order some now!

This weekend I want to finish my first company of Confederate infantry which will be this company of Virginians.  It's the black bits next, though, so I went to Kingston this week and bought three more Winsor & Newton Series 7 brushes at £35!  Although you can get them cheaper online I like to check the tips of each before I buy them.

I've been reading lots of post Salute blogs and enjoying all the pictures of games which I completely missed as I walked around ExCel.  However, without wanting to sound like the didactic Henry Hyde (wargaming's own Gwyneth Paltrow) I wish some people would expand the width of their blogs so old people like me could read them and appreciate their pictures.  This one, for example, could do with expanding and bigger text.  As you can see there is lots of expansion room on the page.  It's not hard to do.  Even I managed to do it and I am completely computer illiterate, although you do  have to re-format your title picture, if you have one. 

I had quite a quiet day the Sunday after Salute and had a nice chat with my friend over breakfast in Sainsbury's.  She has taken up yoga and, like all converts, is now urging me to do the same (my doctor has suggested it too).  Having seen the ladies doing yoga in the Village Centre, however, I would need to go on a six month fitness regime before even joining.   One of Guy's schoolfriend''s mother was a typical Oxshott yummy mummy and spent around four hours a day in the gym.  She does triathlons; ironman ones, not those silly little ones like I did once on the Isle of Wight.  In fact, she did the round the Isle of Wight cycle route (62 miles) before lunch a year or so ago.  I used to do the London to Brighton bike ride (60 miles) ad it used to take me six hours. The Isle of Wight route is much hillier, too.   Talking of fit, while I was undercoating some Confederate infantry on Sunday,  the Old Bat was chatting to Louise Redknapp and Daisy Lowe, annoyingly.  Oh, how I enjoyed Miss Lowe's Playboy pictures a few years ago.   She does yoga, I believe.  Seems to work.

One of my ex-girlfriends from College is very into yoga, to the extent that she used to go and study in India once a year and had a yoga book importing business.  She wasn't that flexible when I knew her, though, sadly.  Unlike another girlfriend of mine, K, who unexpectedly got in touch with me this week after not communicating for ten years (we had lost each other's e-mail addresses and she had moved house).  K, who I was at College with too, was always doing dance classes at Pineapple after university.  She was always very skinny and very, very flexible.  I dug out a sketch of her I did at university, when she weighed about six stone ten (94 lbs for Americans). I haven't seen her for 20 years (she lives in Cambridgeshire) but we were very close and we are going to meet up again in London soon.  As a result (and the college Gaudy in two months) I am trying to eat less (no more cooked breakfasts, sniff) and went running again yesterday  morning (37 minutes!). I suspect K will not have been subject to middle age spread; she was always taut and trim.

Today's music is the Ashkenazy/Ghindin recording of the original versions of Rachmaninov's Piano concertos number one and four, which are very much the less performed of his four concertos..  The first was written when he was only seventeen and owes a lot to both the Grieg and the Tchaikovsky.  This early version is not nearly as successful as his later revision, which is what is performed today,  With the Fourth, however, the original version is actually superior (especially in the last movement) and contains about three minutes of extra material.   Ashkenazy, as might be expected from a pianist, is a sympathetic conductor although the Helsinki Orchestra are not a patch on the LSO, who accompanied him when he played these pieces under Andre Previn.  Forty year old Ghindin, who I haven't heard before, is excellent.   Fascinating recording.

Today's wallpaper is The Victory of Faith (1889) by the Irish painter St George Hare. This gently sensual picture actually has a religious theme and depicts two Christian women imprisoned in a Roman amphitheatre, while barely visible lions glower through the bars in the background. The white girl is tied to a stone pillar on which a cross has been scratched. The dark skinned woman is supposed to be her Ethiopian maid, with them both being due to be thrown to the lions the next day.  Their tender touching of each other may be intended to depict their shared faith but now it seems likely that Hare copied the pose from a French erotic postcard!

Hare (1857-1933) produced a number of pictures of chained women for supposedly religious, uplifting paintings. This picture was well received at the time, however, and is now on display in the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, to which it was donated in 1905. 

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Post Salute Depression...

Well not really, but the rushing around on the day (after a very busy week at work) has made me rather tired and my legs still ache.  The only thing to do was go and meet my friend in Sainsbury's and end parenthesise Salute 24 hours with another cooked breakfast.  I nearly bought Rogue One in Sainsburys as they have it for £10 but don't know if I want to watch it again.  It would be interesting to see what the video sales are of this,  Charlotte says she wants to see it again but she is a Star Wars superfan.

I am grateful for the kind comments on my Salute post yesterday but feel rather guilty as it was, really, not a Salute post at all and was sorely lacking in pictures and other Salute content.  It has been nice to catch up on other people's much better blog posts and look at their fantastic pictures.   As ever, Wargames News and Terrain have done a fantastic job collecting posts, news and pictures into one place.  Hopefully, there will be more blog posts in the next few days. I can't believe how many things I missed and was particularly annoyed to miss Dalauppror's lovely looking (and prize winning) Fort Mosquito game.  I missed his last Salute game too even more annoyingly.

I also started to remember all the things I meant to go back and buy but forgot to; principally the Perry Afghans with mountain gun, which I could have used with my Sikhs until my North Star one turns up (if ever).  I also think I should have gone back and got some Victrix Macedonian pikemen but as Big Red Bat said to me today "I'm surprised you've not got a stash of metal ones in your Lead Mountain" and, of course, he was right.  I found these Foundry figures straight away and suspect I may have more somewhere.  I really need to sort out the pile!  I wish I'd bought a couple more TableScape mud brick houses too.

Usually, I return from Salute with a great desire to get painting but I didn't feel like it today, although I did undercoat the last company of my first Confederate infantry unit.  I also filed and based the Perry metal Confederates in frock coats, who are destined to form my Texan regiment. These are lovely and I am looking forward to starting them. I need three more packs, though.  I also got my newest North West Frontier figures based too so the day wasn't a total write off.

I'm not sure how my work week is going to pan out; it could mean a frantic two days on Monday and Tuesday or I could have more time to get on with a couple of longer term projects I need to finish which I have had to drop in the last month due to other demands.  I can't make Shed Wars tomorrow, as I have a conference call in the evening, which is particularly annoying as it is an ACW game. and I haven't actually played an ACW game since my Airfix days in the seventies.  Overall, though, despite my post Salute ennui I am looking forward to getting some more painting done in the next seven days.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Back from Salute 2017

Attractive ladies at right  probably aren't going into Salute - I suspect they may run fast

Well I am back from Salute, with the usual sore feet and tired legs but at least I won't feel as bad as all the London Marathon runners, who were all registering at ExCel too this year (after a break from coinciding with Salute last year) will after tomorrow.  I first ran the London Marathon in 1987 (3hrs 56 mins - marathon runners always tell you their time) and went to work the next day, stupidly.  I have never had such agony in my legs ever.  Literally every step was excruciating.  I ran it again in 1990 (3hrs 35 mins) and it wasn't quite as bad as I was better trained but it was still bad.  Even worse, when I got back to the station at home this afternoon, the Old Bat was at the garden centre and I had to walk home.  Good exercise, I suppose.  Ow.

The Raphia Mafia

I was going to say that I took the fewest number of pictures I had ever done at Salute but that is not true.  Still, I took less than ten pictures and this was mainly because it was so packed you couldn't get to anything.  You couldn't see the games and you couldn't see things on vendors stands.  Or at least. I couldn't but I am not patient and won't queue. There were far fewer of the big display games this year and really the biggest was Big Red Bat's splendid Raphia game using his excellent To the Strongest rules.  I nearly went and bought a load of Victrix pikemen as a result, as I actually have quite a lot of painted Macedonian cavalry and skirmishers from the Society of Ancients Cynoscephalae battle we did with Guildford Wargames Club almost exactly ten years ago, for which I panted sixty Greek figures just in April!  Still, not beyond the bounds of possibility in the future.

I did succumb to the new Victrix EIR Romans and some Little Big Men shield transfers.  I used to have some of the big Steve Sahleh Foundry Romans but I sold them to Big Red Bat some years ago.  I bought the Warlord ones but didn't like them as they were too small to match my (largely) Renegade Celts and Foundry Germans.  These, however look just the job.  I tried to get some in Orc's Nest this week but they have stopped stocking Victrix.  I don't know whether the bag rather than the box was just because they are new out or whether this is a permanent change.  Some of the Victrix boxes were huge but this doesn't offer much protection to delicate plastic components.  I think they are planning to make auxiliaries too, so maybe I will be able to field the mixed chainmail and lorica segmentata units I want to for the invasion of Britain in 43 AD; if they have interchangeable heads, for example.  But do I paint the tunics red or off white?

Some rather different plastics were on display at the Warlord stand with the new plastic Daleks and Cybermen.  You only seemed to be able to get them as part of a game (called Exterminate!, naturally) for £35 which they were selling, which looked far too boardgame-like for me.  Too many tokens in it!  Still, it seemed to be attracting lots of interest.  Also selling well was the new Perry TravelBattle and Mr Robert (Bob) Cordery, who I was delighted to meet for the first time said that if it sold well they might do an ACW one.

The Perry's always have some 3-ups of forthcoming plastic sets on display and this time they were showing those most useful of French cavalry, the Chasseurs a Cheval.  Not for me, I think but Eric the Shed had a huge bag stuffed with boxes of Napoleonic cavalry for his not a skirmish any more Peninsula project.  He has also posted some excellent pictures here.  Getting Salute pictures up is rather like the Beaujolais Nouveau race these days.

More interesting and something of a surprise were these 3-up Perry Zulus.  Neither the Warlord Games nor the old Wargames Factory plastic Zulus were brilliant but these should be excellent.  You can never have enough Zulus.  However, Perry and Warlord used to say that they wouldn't duplicate plastic sets but this is certainly happening now, as was the case with the Zulu Wars British on sale today.

Also attracting a lot of attention was The Drowned Earth team who were running several games on their stand.  The metal figures are really nice but the man there said it wouldn't really work as a solo game, so I think that has meant that I won't buy into this Kickstarte, apart from my other issues with them.

It was one of the small The Drowned Earth boards that I liked the most, from a scenic point of view.  I'm not quite sure what appealed to me so much about it but if I could have taken one home this would have been it.  The game itself seems to also suffer from counter-itis though.  I cannot understand why people spend ages painting figures and making splendid scenery and then cover it in counters or cards.  That is probably the painter versus gamer differentiator I suppose.

On the scenic front I bought two middle eastern mud brick type houses.  One was a 4Ground laser cut one and one was a foam resin one from TableScape, a firm I didn't know.   They have a number of other buildings which I could use for Afghanistan, the Sudan, Egypt or even Darkest Africa.  I will paint them both to match my Renedra one.  I picked up a few bits at the Renedra stand for my ACW project.

So that was really it.  I didn't arrive early enough to get the Black Scorpion pirate Salute special and for the first time I didn't get the Salute free figure either, which was more annoying as she would have gone in my Back of Beyond Bolshevik force. Still, I got more than last year with some: Iron Duke command for my Indian Mutiny British, Perry Afghans, Perry ACW Confederates in frock coats, Renedra worm fencing and 'American style' gravestones for my church model. Forty one figures added to the lead and plastic pile, though.  Could have been worse. I resisted (just) the Crooked Dice female minions, for example, the Vixtrix pikemen and some North Star 1672 figures (the fault of Versailles on TV, although to reflect last night's first episode of series 2 we would have needed a 28mm naked pregnant lady).

The Legatus at far left (picture stolen from Tamsin's blog)

I really enjoyed the bloggers meet (although there were less of us than last year) and it was nice to catch up again with The Wild Goose and hear his plans for the latest Latin American War of Independence figures from his Orinoco Miniatures.  Having spent all yesterday with Colombians I was looking out some of his British from the conflict to finish.  Always nice to see fellow Guildford Wargames Club and Shed Wars gaming ally/opponent Alastair.  I also caught up with the prolific Wargaming Girl, Big Lee and various others.  It was also nice to meet, for the first time, the well travelled Bob Cordery and the endlessly inventive Michael of Victorian Warfare fame.

I got to Salute at 11.30 and was out by 14.00 which was, I think, quite enough, given the bad light, the concrete floors and the number of people.  I am pleased with the things I bought but it is more a targetted shopping expedition now than a gentle saunter looking for inspiration, which it was in the past.  I don't know how much it costs to get a trade tand there but it seems much more corporate than the other shows like Warfare and Colours I attend.  Apart from one stand, the days of the amateur scenics maker, who you could pick up a few trees from, seems to have gone.  Everything is in professionally made boxes these days.  Probably a good thing for the hobby but..   Still, it was good to see quite a few youngsters playing games and more ladies than ever (although a disproportionate number did seem to have hair dyed in various shades of unnatural red).

In 2012 I went to ExCel to watch the fencing at the Olympics with my daughter and, like the Olympics. I wonder whether Salute hasn't now got too bug for its own good.   It is almost an endurance event.  I'll still keep going though, no doubt!