Sunday, November 22, 2009

Warfare at Reading

Big Blenheim

Warfare is the third show I go to after Salute and Colours. Sited in a rather cramped leisure centre in an unattractive corner of Reading (are there any other kinds?), I tend to use it as a quick in and out shopping expedition rather than one for taking in the demonstration games and enjoying the ambience.

Nonetheless, there was one jaw-dropping demonstration game on today; a 28mm Blenheim by organisers, Wargames Association of Reading's Matt Slade. Despite the popularity of Marlborough at Guildford I have never got into the period (despite buying those first Peter Laing 15mm figures in the seventies) but this almost converted me. Stunning!

Lego Star Wars!

My son, Guy's, favourite was the Lego Star wars game. Having spent a fortune on eBay over the years acquiring rare and out of production sets and figures for him (Cloud City I remember costing me about the same as two of those Games Workshop army packs you can get) I reckon the value of the figures on the table was huge! I mean, I collect vintage Playboys and they are bad enough but nothing compared to Star Wars Lego. I have seen individual figures go for £40 each!

Shopping wise I hadn't meant to get much but of course...

I got some more Crusader Numidian cavalry and some of the new Oscans for Zama, some more Perry Beja, some Black Scorpion pirate girls (engagingly not very historically accurate). I also got some more Artizan pulp Sky Pirates, for which I have just bought a 1/48th Junkers JU 52 to transport them in.

28mm gorgeousness from Paul Hicks

I chatted with the chap at the Empress miniatures stand about what they have got coming outs soon: some more irregular cavalry and I had a look at the new artillery pieces which were superb. The Newcastle Mounted Rifles are coming soon, which is amazing considering that there were only 36 of them mustered! You will be able to fight 1:1 engagements with them! I bought some of the new Natal Carbineers, some more British Infantry and the new command pack which includes Col. Pulleine. The latter are some of the nicest figures I have seen for ages; really up there with the Perries top stuff and Paul Hicks should be congratulated for getting so much Victorian character into something so small. Even more impressive were the reins on the horses which are all moulded without that slab of metal between them that most (nearly all) figures have. This involves some clever in-mould manipulation and just demonstrates, I think, the lengths that Empress are going to to produce the ultimate figures for the period. I also picked up a trio of their new Bell tents, ideal for Isandlwana.

I also had a chat with Brian Sweeney at Mutineer Miniatures whose figures (by Mike Owen) are also some of the nicest I have seen for ages (mine arrived this week). Again, they have got more packs coming out in the next few weeks. He was also very helpful in pointing me in the right direction for some initial help on painting as none of my books have any information on this period at all. He is promising painting guides up on his website soon.

Guy's Iraqi T 55

Finally, Guy, who has being playing D-Day on the living room floor for months has decided he wants to do modern warfare for a bit. Fortunately, I had lots of modern plastics in the loft. He got 86% in a maths exam at school this week. Miracle! The new £35 an hour tutor is obviously working! So I got him one of those nice ready-made die-cast tanks that you can get nowadays. He chose a T55 as he had a ride in one over the summer holidays at the Isle of Wight Military Museum. A few years ago we had a Lord Mayor of London (I travel on their overseas business missions a fair bit in my role as Chairman of a government infrastructure group), Michael Savoury, who collected tanks. Real ones, not models. The Lord Mayor and I were having lunch with the Czech Ambassador in the Czech Embassy and he asked him if he could get a suspension wheel for his Czech built T55 as his had broken! He got it as well!

Guy, left, enoys the ride (six times more expensive per minute than the maths tutor!)

All in all I spent more than I meant to, considering we had time constraints today, but have already based a lot of the new figures. I have varnished the Carthaginian veterans today so just need to do the metal work, shields and spears. Then Zulu War British... Probably.


  1. That Blenheim game looks astonishing! I'm very jealous. Wish I'd seen it..

  2. So how many periods do you have on the go now?!! The Empress Zulu Wars range is becoming very tempting - it's when ranges release personalities and oddities like the Newcastle Horse that it really takes off. With the Indian Mutiny taking off too, I wonder if we will see a resurgence of interest in mid-Victorian campaigns. It's always nice to see a decent 19th century games that isn't ACW.

    Best wishes