Wednesday, August 14, 2013

What's going on...Samurai, Sikhs, Colombians and ModelZone

Everyone's regular blog posts are really encouraging me to get back to painting at present.  I took a whole load of wargames magazines to Cowes with me and even managed to read some of them.  I'm back in Cowes for a few days while my son does a powerboat course at the Royal Yacht Squadron.  Looking at the magazines there seems a big buzz about Samurai at present but, I feel, it's always going to be a minority interest because of the time needed to paint an army.  It's like the Hundred Years War; you pretty much need to do nothing else. As a wargaming period it has seemed like it was always going to the next big thing for about forty years now.  It's like hypersonic aircraft. We're still waiting.  That 1973 cover of Military Modelling with that huge samurai archer figure being the start of it.  A few years ago my friend bought a computer game Shogun: Total War and had me try it out as he wanted to see how a (not very active at that time) wargamer would get on against a non-wargaming computer gamer (slighly better it turned out, after a few tries).  I was tempted when the Perry Figures came out and I had a whole selection of Stephen Turnbull (the Samurai answer to Ian Knight) books but it never came to anything (like most of my projects) so my Samurai Wargaming was confined to one game I had years ago.

Skirmish Samurai is something else, however, although I am not an aficionado of Samurai films.  I admit to never having seen The Seven Samurai (I have never seen The Magnificent Seven either!).  I have seen Ran and Kagemusha and that's it (well, apart from Ai no korîda which I went to see with S-A some years ago.  She was...surprised but delighted with it's, er, alternative look at Japanese culture).  In fact this is one of the issues I have with Samurai Japanese wargaming - I just don't identify with the culture.  This is why Divine Wind was the only WAB book I never bought.  I am also not interested in Koreans, Mongols, Ancient Chinese or those elephant war games that appeared at the shows a few years ago.

Despite, my anti East Asian wargames stance (although I love my Chinese back of Beyond Army) however, I am still considering the new North Star figures to go with Ronin but then of course I would need to buy some buildings.  It is the availability of these in laser cut form that may tip the balance for me and, indeed, others, I suspect.

Studio Miniatures Sikh Wars

The problem is that not only did I buy all the In her Majesty's Name figures and rules I bought in to Empire of the Dead and Wargods of Olympus (over £350 worth for the latter).  Last week I also joined the Kickstarter for Studio Miniatures Sikh Wars Range.  My interest in this being engendered by Flashman and the Mountain  of Light and the fact that I have a tiny, tiny bit of Sikh blood myself (something like 1/64th). These figures are looking completely splendid and it has got me getting some of my Indian Mutiny figures out to finish.

Orinoco Miniatures British Legion now based

I am also pleased with the way Orinoco Miniatures South America wars of liberation range is progressing with peasant uniformed Colombians promised soon, they tell me.  I got the British Legion figures I bought based today.  So far I have a set each of advancing, firing line and command. They have now come out with flags too. One thing I think about firing line figures, though, is that I feel that half of them should always be in firing poses, rather than the two out of six we have here.  I will get sand on the base and undercoat them soon although I have to concentrate on my Roman Galley for Big Red Bat's game at Colours.  

Anyway, all in all I don't need any new figures for a bit, I just need to paint some of those I have got!  Just before I left for Cowes I did put the base flesh colour on some of my In Her Majesty's Name figures so hope to get a faction finished in the next few months. 

Going, going...

One thing I discovered on the Isle of Wight was that Hurst, the local ironmonger, has changed the supplier for their washers and my favourites are no longer available. I've probably got a hundred or so left but after they are gone I will have to start using, unwillingly, one pence pieces which are exactly the same diameter but rather thicker.  These work out cheaper, actually, than the washers but I don't really approve of defacing the Queen's currency and I think it may be illegal!

Modelzone Holborn

While I was away last week I read that ModelZone had gone bust.  I used to go into the ones in Holborn and Kingston quite often and have bought from them a whole load of model kits I have never built.  As usual internet shopping was blamed (along with an over-zealous expansion strategy which was the more likely reason) but, oddly, I have never bought a model kit on the internet. My purchases were always impulse ones at ModelZone or Addlestone Models.  What I did use ModelZone for was stocking up on Humbrol paint and plastic filler which I use for the bases of my figures.  Six months ago I noticed that they had started stocking Flames of War and Warhammer for the first time.  I was worried that the easy availability of the former might tip me that way (and that would also be Scott's fault!).  It seems that the former owner of the chain wants to buy a number of the stores but administrators Deloitte only want to sell them all in one lot. Ten shops have closed already (five today). Hopefully it will be like HMV and we will see it survive.  Sadly, I suspect that in a recession most modellers have sufficient backlog at home (yes Fraxinus I am thinking of you!) to make stopping spending on kits fairly painless. That, and of course surplus kits can be bought and sold on eBay, hitting sales further.

So I am looking forward to getting back down to doing some painting but have very little time.  I am away for the Bank Holiday at a grand house party for my mother in law's 80th birthday.  I have to take my daughter to university in Edinburgh (if she gets the grades tomorrow - or the Day of Doom as it is known in our household- there was one dodgy paper everyone was ranting about) which is another weekend lost.  In October I am going to Poland again and, possibly Denmark and then in November its back to Colombia and possibly Panama and Costa Rica.

Anyway, I need to go and buy some super glue so I can finish the main parts of the Roman galley and get it under-coated this week!


  1. I'm with you on defacing legal tender, I just can't bring myself to do it.

  2. Another wonderfully eclectic post!

    Interesting thoughts on the samurai. A local mate here I feel is about to go full steam ahead into it... more to read about here:

    Whilst I like the culture, what put me off was the painting, all the intricate armour, and flowery patterned robes etc - just seemed like too much hard work...

    1/64th Sikh? I am sure there's a story there waiting to be told? ;-)

    Tempting you into Flames of War? Moi? Surely not ! ;-) Ah well at least temptation seems to have been removed... shame to see ModelZone go... I recall a store on the main high street in Newcastle upon Tyne that I used to frequent occasionally many years ago... I believe they took over from what used to be Beatties...

    I have been having a ponder about your Lead mountain, and impending arrival of more... (classic wargamer!), and I thought, with all your travel demands, it would only seem fair that you consider sending batches of your models off for painting whilst you are away? I am guessing you would be suitably solvent to spare a few sheckels for this sort of service? (childrens schooling fees excepted of course!) Then just paint up the ones you really want to yourself...
    I realise this suggestion may be anathema to some, probably me included, but you have the perfect excuse, at least to me; being time poor in this respect?

    Good to see you back at the hobby table none the less...

  3. I've also been bitten by the Ronin bug and have ordered the rules and am couple of factions (I really shouldn't have...)

    I agree with your thoughts on going for a full Samurai army...far too much lacing and fiddly detail). I did have a go in 15mm but couldn't manage it but have a half complete project in 6mm which was a lot more forgiving!

  4. I am hoping Samurai is the next 'big thing' as like you it's never caught my imagination...I can then concentrate on the existing projects without distraction (just started a Wars of the Roses army in 10/12mm as well) and save money on wargames mags which will go OTT on the subject! As you quite rightly surmise LH (and many thanks for the mention!)I have enough loft insulation to see out the recession (and probably the next 10!) & loss of stores. Addlestone Models is my current hobby supplier at the mo' plus I have Hornby Modelworld just down the road in Kent where I can buy bargain Airfix kits off their sale shelves (eg Falklands aircraft set 6 kits for £7!, latest FW 190 £3)Anyway on more important matters I hope your daughter gets the grades she needs

  5. Regarding the bases, have you given consideration to going to a sheet metal fabricator who might be willing to make up a die punch and knock out several hundred for you? My best friend and I did this for metal bases for our 28 mm Fire & Fury figures and this worked really well.