Sunday, December 28, 2008

Something for the weekend...

A splendid figure from August 1976

My father had always seen it as important that he imparted as much arcane knowledge to me as possible about things he thought were useful and that I should know. Many of his views and illustrated "lectures" have stayed with me and have affected the way I look at the world in a way that, now that my own son is coming up to twelve, I had not really explicitly acknowledged.

Starlux 54mm Napoleonics, bought in the museum shop at Les Invalides

Principally, of course, for the purposes of this blog, was his interest in military history. He served in the Nottinghamshire and Derby Regiment, the Sherwood Foresters, in North Africa during World War 2. It was through making models of Airfix kits with me that he told me about WW2 and, as a result, my first forays into wargaming, when I went to senior school, were focussed on that era (Western Desert, of course). He was also interested in the Napoleonic period (he was more a Napoleon follower than a Wellingtonian) and took me round the Musée de l'Armée in Paris and bought me some of the Starlux 54mm painted plastic French cavalry figures (which my little boy now proudly has on his shelves). He was also a great fan of the film Zulu which always kept that period bubbling away at the back of my mind. The American Civil War was another of his interests and he bought me the Airfix figures because, as he rightly pointed out, it was the only pre 20th century range where you could get infantry, cavalry and artillery enough to fight a battle. I am looking forward to starting a few of the Perry figures over this holiday.

Other things he taught me about included Frank Lloyd Wright and the history of American architecture, as he was an architect who designed over the top houses for celebrities. I spent a lot of my spare time on building sites when I was little.

He also gave me a proper appreciation of wine. I was given my first glass of wine at the age of two and a half. whilst on holiday in Brittany. and as children my sister and I had it with every Sunday lunch (usually accompanied by The Navy Lark or Round the Horne on the radio). Cooking was also important to him and he had several chef friends who later became some of the earliest TV chefs in the UK. They were often to be found concocting things like cassoulet or paella in the kitchen, which I enjoyed greatly as they made the most frightful mess, much to my mother's consternation. My mother's cooking ability meant that she found toast a challenge, but my father married her because she was a glamourous journalist, the beauty editor of a top women's magazine, not because she could cook. He also showed me how to make a proper Martini when I was twelve.

However, what he really liked was women. Whilst desperately moving stuff about my mother's attic recently, looking for my 1899 Lincoln Jeffries Air Rifle (which I eventually found),I came across my father's and my combined collection of old Penthouse magazines from the 1960s and 1970s. My father had been a charter subscriber in 1965 and was also a member of the Penthouse Club in London. He had conveniently left some of these on display in his study at about the right time he felt I should be interested in them (like most parents he was a year or so too late) and even after he died (of a surfeit of drink, foie gras, women and, largely, Gauloises - at least I don't smoke) I managed to acquire more copies through the active trading network at school (I remember getting one issue for a painted squadron of Churchill tanks).

Wargaming in Penthouse!

UK Penthouse, first published in March 1965, (it was a UK magazine originally, after all) had almost identical pictorial content with the US version until Guccione sold the UK operation in 1982. The articles were largely different for the different markets of course. Penthouse UK was numbered by volume and number whereas US Penthouse, which didn't start up until September 1969, was given a date (e.g. August 1976) as an identifier. Anyway, having liberated them from my mothers house I was looking through UK Volume 11 Number 6 (August 1976) yesterday and found this short article about collecting model soldiers with details of the British Model Soldiers Society and a picture of the hip and cool dudes of the Paragon Wargames Group (I still own a copy of their rules for gladiatorial combat). It said that you would have to pay 9 pence for a 25mm foot officer! I have attached the article in what will, I hope, be a readable format if you click on it. I cannot imagine a similar article today in a magazine like FHM being anything other than snide about wargamers but this article is perfectly straight. Earlier in its run the art director of Penthouse was Philip O Stearns, a senior member of the Sealed Knot and photographer of all the Peter Gilder figures in Sir Peter Young's The War Game; he had long left the magazine by 1976 but perhaps some of the appreciation of military figure collecting had stayed in the collective consciousness of the magazine! Either that or the BMSS had a very effective publicity unit!

I had completely forgotten about the article even though I must have acquired the magazine when I was still wargaming at school. Given the triple charms of Coleen Carney, Rhianna Post, and, particularly, the Pet of the Month, Victoria Lynn Johnson (I have always like a good redhead) perhaps it is not surprising. Both the latter ladies appeared in Bob Guccione's Caligula, which despite its reputation as a loss making white elephant was actually the most successful independent film up to that point and did, actually, make money.. At the top we have Miss Johnson in one of the very few pictures from her pictorial which I can use to ensure that I don't get the dreaded "objectionable content" label from Blogger.

Saturday, December 27, 2008


It's big. Really big.

I don't usually get much wargaming stuff for Christmas although my children usually get me something from Games Workshop. This year I got a Space Marines speeder bike as I think my little boy fancies it! I got a book on the Normans from the parents in law which will be useful background for my new Norman Army.

Much to my amazement my wife got me the new Citadel Realm of Battle Gameboard. This was a complete surprise but my children had told her what I wanted; I am so glad I got them good presents despite the credit crunch Christmas (not much sign of that in this house, in fact-Christmas presents cost me the most ever). As for my wife, she doesn't like surprise presents (she is incredibly fussy about everything) so, as a result, she keeps seeing things in the shops and I keep saying "don't worry that can be your Christmas present". Hmm, I wonder when the goodwill of the gameboard will become exhausted by the constant stream of things being ordered for her off the John Lewis website.

I will do a proper review of it as I start to paint it bit by bit (that will take ages) but my little boy claims he will help!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Battle of Olustee 1864

I had forty five minutes before a meeting in the State Capitol in Tallahassee on Friday and popped into the Florida State Museum just down the road. It's a small but beautifully done museum starting with prehistoric Native Indians and moving on from there. Well worth a visit if you are ever in Tallahassee.

Like most State Museums in that part of the world, I guess, they had an exhibit on the American Civil War. Like many people, I expect, I have been trying to think of something to do with my Perry Plastic ACW figures and now, thanks to the museum, I think I have the answer. The Battle of Olustee was Florida's biggest ACW battle and was fought on February 20th 1864 by almost equal forces of about 5,000 men each. It was fought in a pine forest with no underbrush and no earthworks. There were about nine regiments on each side which looks acheivable to me.

There is also, usefully, a superb website about the battle giving loads of detail:

It featured a gallant rearguard action by some regiments of Union coloured troops (the Union forces were defeated) so I can use all those heads the Perries have come out with.

It will make a change from all the usual battles that ACW wargamers go for and is on an acheivable scale. Must get some figures painted when I return.
Good bye Florida, hello Canada today. The tour continues!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Blog Hit Parade: November

Just time to update the blog hit parade from sunny Anaheim before I have to go off to dinner. The Sudan blog continues to grow in poularity with nearly 4,500 visits last month. This blog has overtaken Cavegirls (but I have some great new stuff to put on over Christmas).

1(1)19th Century Sudan Wargames Armies 4,494 (32,805)
2(3) Legatus' Wargames Armies 1,583 (21,418)
3(2)Cavegirls in Fur Bikinis 919 (96,819)
4(6) Return to Darkest Africa 601 (6,166)
5(4)Spartan WAB 512 (9,984)
6(7)Dark Ages WAB 344 (3,612)
7(9 3rd and 4th Century Roman WAB 381 (2,983)
8(8)Lord of the Rings: Armies of Middle Earth 293 (1,862)
9(8)Wargaming the Great Northern War 284 ( 3,577)
10(12 The Great War 267 (1,230)
11(13)Wargaming the Zulu War 232 (672)
12(11)Punic War WAB 209 (3,820)
13(14) Byzantine WAB 164 (2,735)
14(15) Swashbucklers 80 (481)
15(15) Pulp Warriors 18(48,799)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Reading, Bath, Bristol, Beverly Hills

Well, it's been a busy week. I came back from a trip to Poland last Friday and did a quick trip to Warfare in Reading on Saturday. I bought quite a few more Crusader Normans and got some LBM shield transfers for them and managed to finish a batch to add to the other one I did last week. I am really enjoying painting these as they are so quick and easy to do.

I acquired a Great War Miniatures Mark IV tank as I am reading the truly excellent Band of Brigands by Christy Campbell at the moment which is about the development of the tank in World War 1. Of course, that means I will have to acquire some late war World War 1 figures to add to my early war figures. I am glad to see that GWM have just announced their first early war cavalry as the production of the promised Uhlans will stop me hankering after the lovely Helion cavalry that Matt has been painting on his Waterloo to Mons Blog (I love his new Danes!). I bought some trench pieces, mainly for my little boy but also to be used in WW1.

I also bought a few more Perry Sudan so I can finish my small unit of British Mounted Infantry. Putting Camel Corps riders on Cavalry horses looks fine and I only need a four man unit. Hopefully I can finish these at Christmas.

This week I visited our Bristol office and stayed with my friends in Bath. They have a huge Games Workshop in Bath and I went in to have a look at the new plastic modular battleround. I have to say it was much more impressive in real life than on the web. The hills are much taller than they look in pictures. There are several annoying sections full of Warhammer type skulls but I reckon I can just use plastic filler to cover them. They said I could buy one, even though it was a day before the release, but unfortunately I wouldn't have been able to get it on the train. It comes in a carry case but it is still 24"x24"x8". Too big to lug around! I reckon I need three, one for desert, one for Northern Europe and one for Mediterranean areas. It's £150 though (I am sure it was £100 when I first looked!) so it will have to wait until after Christmas (if they have any left, they havent made that many it seems).

I got back from Bath yesterday but am now in Terminal 5 at Heathrow (again!) waiting for my flight to Los Angeles. It's not one of my favourite flights as it's eleven and a half hours during the day so you always arrive shattered. Never mind a few days in the sunshine at the Beverly Hilton should set me up for my conference on Tuesday. Then it's Anaheim, Tallahassee, Miami Beach, Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Washington DC. I don't get home until 19th December so that will comprehensively torpedo this year's painting targets, even with a good go at Christmas!

So there probably won't be very many entries for a while!

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Workbench

The Normans are coming, the Normans, are coming!

Everything is up in the air since my last workbench post. Three weeks ago it was all about plastic Warlord Games Romans with a subsidiary concentration on WW1 Germans, Zulu Wars, Sudan Highlanders and Early Saxons. That was before I bought some Perry French plastics of course! Looking forward to very little painting time between now and Christmas (I will be travelling for four weeks) my workbench is now looking very different!

At least I finished the batch of Early Saxons I was working on but this has got me back into Dark Ages again. With my little boy doing the invasions of 1066 at school I rounded up a few odd Anglo Saxons I had in the lead pile for basing; a mixture of Gripping Beast and Black Tree Design. I am very fussy about not mixing miniatures from different manufacturers but for warband types even I don't mind so much. Then I saw Foundry had a good sale on Darkest Africa and went and bought an army deal of Baluchi mercenaries. Given that I wasn't paying the postage I added a couple of packs of their new (ish) Anglo Saxons too. The Baluchis are great (I'd forgotten just how good (especially with faces) Mr Copplestone is compared with many of his rivals) and I will paint some up fairly soon.

I was in Oman recently and see that many of the figures are armed with the characteristic khanjar dagger. I was quite tempted to bring one of these back but I only had hand luggage on the way back from Muscat to Dubai and didn't think the security people would have been too impressed!

The real surprise were the Anglo Saxons. There has been a lot of criticism lately over Foundry's new offerings (there is a lot of criticism of Foundry anyway) but these Anglo Saxons are superb. Lots of real character and wonderful sculpts. On these the criticism is that they only have round shields but kite shields are easy enough to buy (Gripping Beast and Crusader do packs of them). Anyway by not giving them too many kite shields I can use them for the earlier King Alfred period; confining the Kite shields to those figures who are obviously late 11th century.

To compound the Dark Ages revival I also got a good lot of Crusader Norman infantry on eBay and the one I have painted was very quick to do. I have just ordered some bowmen and a few cavalry. I also ordered a pack of Crusader's Anglo Saxons. I suspect that these will be a bit shorter than the Foundry figures but mixed up it shouldn't be too noticeable.

I'm still working on the Napoleonics though!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Plastic v Metal Perry French Napoleonic

Plastic on the left, metal on the right

Metal on the left, plastic on the right

Well, I have started work on my first French unit (100th Line) and have actually completed two figures this weekend, which is not bad as I had to go around a possible school for my little boy and attended the Barry Gray 100th anniversary concert at the Festival Hall.

I did two figures in greatcoats so I could get them done quickly. A few observations. The plastic figures have better faces, more inscale rifles and bayonets but less fur detail on their packs (I had to paint a fur effect rather than dry brushing). There is only one small bit on the left coat turnback where the figure is indistinct because of the moulding process (not visible on the greatcoat figure). The detail on the rifle is not as crisp as the metal figure but then it doesn't bend either!

The main difference is that the plastics have the round pom poms of the first battalion whereas the metals have the flat discs of the subsequent battalions. This only applies to fusiliers, of course, the flank companies had the same shako plumes.

100th Line so far. One of the first two units to engage the Dutch 27th Jaegers at Quatre Bras

This has an effect on my first unit. The 100th Line had 3 battalions at Quatre Bras and at 1/33 the regiment comes out as 3 battalions of 12. I think a 36 man unit should be fine for the Charles Grant rules. I need another drummer and a mounted Colonel for this unit so will send off an order to the Perries next week. I also need a flag so will look at GMB for that.

With my left over plastics and metals I have started to base some figures for the 4th light, the other regiment in Jamin's 2nd Brigade of Foy's 6th Division. This will be a bigger unit with 48 figures (he says casually).

The next three French are under way along with a couple more Dutch Jaegers and a cuirassier. I can't believe I am painting Napoleonics again!

Friday, November 07, 2008

The Arab Revolt

The last thing I need is another army to build, but Artizan have just announced their new range of Arab Revolt figures. Oh dear! I travel to Jordan a lot on business and my father in law is close to the Jordanian Royal family (lets face it, King Hussein met his first wife on the set of Lawrence of Arabia). When I was at University I was Art Director of the Oxford Union Magazine and we were always being told that Lawrence had read every book in the Union library (obviously a man with a low boredom threshold). President of the Oxford Union when I was there was one William Hague and, of course, David Cameron is a Brasenose man like me (although, sadly, much younger).

The key thing for me is will Artizan make Arabs on camels rather than just infantry? The camels would clinch it for me. Then I'd have to buy a lot of Turks (somewhere else I travel to a lot).

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Bases tonight.

I have just bought a nice metal ruler in Smiths so can make some more bases tonight! I have run out of drawer space for my lead pile so am having to base stuff to put it into the "in progress" boxes. I have a load of Warlord Games figures to base plus some more Sudan camels.
I hate making bases but it's just too dark to paint much at the moment and I feel less pressured now I know I cannot possibly hit my yearly target. I am travelling to Poland the week after next and then the end of the following week I am off to California, Florida, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Washingto DC on a three week painting busting business trip.
Oh well, there is always the Christmas holidays I suppose.

Painted figures for October

Probably equivalent to 8 normal figures!

Not a brilliant month again. Only 12 figures painted.
8 Zulus
4 Sudan highlanders
That's 191 figures in 43 weeks or 4.48 figures a week. Well short of my target of six a week: I should have painted 258 by now. I'd have to paint over a hundred between now and the end of the year to catch up.

Citadel Realm of Battle Gameboard

I am very excited about the new games Workshop modular plastic battle board! During our pirate games on Monday Mike of Black Hat and I were discussing the fact that one of the things that stopped us playing certain games was a lack of scenery. Although he was referring to things like the correct buildings for me it equally applies to not having the right surface.

I only recently acquired a Games Workshop battle mat so that if I was to run a game at the club I could have a reasonable surface to play on. Green snooker baize seems to be the default surface at the club but I can't say that I am particularly enamoured of it. My other issue is that I am not fond of separate hills; they always look ridiculous, especially the stepped ones.

These six plastic 2'x2' tiles look great however. Ideal for Lord of the Rings and, if you paint them appropriately very good for the Sudan. The rocks look just like the black ones in the Sudan desert. I suspect I may buy a couple of sets as they are only £100 each and they come in their own bag. They connect together using little clips so they won't slide about.
The really good news is that in this month's White Dwarf they indicated that they would be adding extra tiles for rivers etc. Fantastic!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Ruled Out

Bad planning or an unexpected wormhole?

There are three credible theories about objects which mysteriously disappear.

The first is that a wormhole briefly opens in the space time continuum and the object (your favourite biro, the EIR standard bearer you know that you bought, Lord Lucan, Amelia Earhart's Lockheed Electra etc) are sucked into another part of the galaxy and turn up on Deep Space 9 (only to be bored to death/become part of the decor at Quark's bar- depending on their corporeal form) or Babylon 5 or some such.

The second theory is that the object is hijacked by aliens/time travellers from the future. Inanimate objects for study/putting in a museum/selling in a 22nd century eBay (imagine how much a set of Copplestone Zanzibari regulars would go for in 2108: I had to pay twenty quid last year!). People either get dissected for research, chopped into pieces and sold at Alien Waitrose (I am sure the John Lewis Partnership is run by aliens anyway) brainwashed and returned so that they can destoy the World economy (Mr Gordon Brown), implanted with a domesday chip to explode in the next decade or get replicated as an external skin for a reptillian alien so that they can move amongst us unseen whilst plotting world domination (this explains many things about the Chinese (an easy area to grab people without anyone noticing) and also explains why my friend who was in China last week was served pickled frog at a banquet.

Kidnapped women, of course, have one purpose and one purpose only (same as on Earth, actually) and that is as breeding material. The plan is to create slaves/replace the infertile human race of the future/create human cattle ("much cheaper to breed them here on Hashkewahee, Mr President than fly all those trans-light jaunts to pick up food directly from Earth! It's all right for the rich Salamanderoids with their wild Earthling steaks but the ordinary working Reptiloids of this planet just need to get cheap meat on the table". There is an alternative theory that aliens from a rival planet are also breeding humans for food. But on Earth. Their Walking Fishoid race has invested heavily in MacDonalds, KFC, Pizza Hut and Walkers Crisps to ensure that come harvest time Earthlings will be fatter and more delicious than ever. Corduroy wearing, pinko, liberals on their home planet complain about the quality of life of the poor Earthlings but that doesn't stop them eating us.

As for the best breeding material, the crafty aliens have set up the European Union (why else have it?) to bring down national barriers so that saucerloads of gorgeous Latvian, Lithuanian, Hungarian and Czech women can freely move around Europe without anyone knowing where they are. I was in Warsaw recently and the number of attractive women had noticeably diminished (they can't all be working as waitresses in the City can they?).

Reptiloid Alien/human skinsuit hybrid

Of course, some gorgeous breeding mares have to be replaced by replicants/lizards in skin suits as they are too high profile on Earth. You can spot these easily, just look for any gorgeous woman who appears to be really, really strange (Angelina Jolie, Halle Berry). A quick perusal of a Hello magazine interview will usually give you a clue. Over time of course, if they stay on Earth too long, the Alien lizard inside melds with the human skinsuit to become a sort of ghastly hybrid. In some cases due to a supply problem with the commissariat on the saucer the real person and the replicant are loose at the same time (how else do you explain Tina Fey and Sarah Palin?). One of them is an alien.

Alien plan to take over White House fails

The third way that objects disappear (and the theory I favour) is that of the multiverse. We are all constantly whizzing through myriad alternative universes where most things are the same but certain key things are different (some Mongolian peasant has three not four children, for example. Will it effect me? No. Unless the missing fourth child decides to be the new Ghengis Khan). Occasionally, and this is the point, we drop into a universe where every single thing is the same but my metal ruler doesn't exist. This has just happened to me. I was searching through my lead pile last night and found over two dozen Perry metal Napoleonics (French and Dutch). Well, I thought I'd base them up so went to the drawer to find my metal ruler and it had gone. Much fruitless searching and then my wife said that my 13 year old daughter (who has just overtaken my wife in height - 5'6" is quite tall enough, thank you) had been using it on the kitchen table. I cleared everything off but couldn't find it. Mydaughter admitted she had been using it and had left it on the table. I told her that her chances of getting the Dancing on Ice Live Tour 2008 DVD were looking pretty slim if she didn't find it. Nothing. I am unable to make bases.

This morning, however, we solved the problem. It wasn't a plunging mutiverse scenario. It was a wormhole scenario. My daughter admitted that she "may" have knocked the ruler so it went down the back of the radiator that, annoyingly, sits right next to the kitchen table and half an inch below its top surface. The gap between radiator and wall, because of the wood planking (it's all a bit New England -my wife really does love cream) is only about 3 millimetres but huge amounts of stuff have disappeared down there over the last 14 years. There must be a wormhole there because nothing ever drops out of the bottom even though there is a gap.

So that's it. I have to buy another metal ruler (and they cost a fortune) before I can base any more figures. I am really busy today and so don't know if I can get out to WH Smith to find one. Unless Games Workshop sell one for £25, of course.

Quark's Bar: My ruler is in there somewhere.

So my ruler is probably now being used to stir pitchers of Romulan Ale cocktails at Quarks Bar (not the one in the Las Vegas Hilton, where I went last year, as I think they are closing it and flogging off all the Star Trek props). That'll take the shine off it.

Grr! Life.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Blog Hit Parade: October

An interesting month. Pulp Warriors plunges from 4th to last place. Obviously the Blogger "objectionable content" warning is putting people off. The cavegirls hits have plunged too. I obviously need to put some more naked ladies onto both sites as it doesn't matter now!

1 (2) 19th Century Sudan Wargames Armies 2,851 (28,311)
2 (1) Cavegirls in Fur Bikinis 1,639 (95,900)
3 (3) Legatus' Wargames Armies 1,580 (19,835)
4 (5) Spartan WAB 823 (9,472 8,649)
6 (6) Return to Darkest Africa 751 (5,565)
7 (8) Dark Ages WAB 414 (3,269)
8 (7) Wargaming the Great Northern War 339 ( 3,293)
9 (10) 3rd and 4th Century Roman WAB 308 (2,602)
10 (9) Lord of the Rings: Armies of Middle Earth 289 (1,569)
11 (12) Punic War WAB 285 (3,611)
12 (11) The Great War 267 (998)
13 (13)Wargaming the Zulu War 240 (409)
14 (14) Byzantine WAB 200 (2,571)
15 (15) Swashbucklers 65 (401)
16 (4) Pulp Warriors 57 (48,781)

Perry Napoleonic French: assembled

The contents of the box, based.

I sat down and put these together over the weekend. It took about an hour and a forty-five minutes to get them into this state.

My first impressions are very, very favourable. Apart from the six skirmishers and the command figures, where you have to stick on their arms, the figures are complete, except for their packs. The separate arms don't fit perfectly and will need a tiny bit of filler. I have started to paint one figure and experience has shown that it is much easier to stick on the pack after you have painted the figure (avoids poking a brush into small spaces to paint belts). I also, stupidly, stuck on a backpack with greatcoat to a figure wearing a greatcoat (there are two sorts of pack: with and without greatcoats) so I had to prize it off and start again. There are many spare heads but I just used the (attached) shakos (all the figures come with shakos the other headgear is only on the spare heads) for the first set (oh dear I am already contemplating another box). Swapping heads may be quite tricky as the rifle is so close to the head so I will need to be careful.

There are a few mould lines (no flash) which can be scraped off in seconds with a sharp modelling knife. In fact I would say that preparation is quicker and easier than metal figures. I only cut my fingers twice (the plastic is hard). There really is little or no loss of definition compared with the metal figures and the size is spot on next to the metals (why couldn't Warlord Games manage this with their Romans?). I have nearly finished painting one of each metal and plastic figures so I will post them soon.

I reckon that at 1/33 ratio the box pretty much represents a two battalion regiment for Quatre Bras or Waterloo. I think I will start with the 3rd line who were one of the first units engaged at Quatre Bras. I reckon I need a mounted Colonel and another officer and drummer for the second battalion. Only the first battalion carried an Eagle, of course. The figures have round pom poms on their shakos so represent the first battalion of a regiment. The metal figures all have the flat discs of the subsequent battalions (I found that I have a number of these already). The Perrys reckon you can squeeze the pom poms to make the flat discs. I think I might try and cut them instead (more cut fingers). Something for the second box and, anyway, if you mess it up you can just bung on a new head! I also remember reading somewhere that the first battalion was likely to have had a better uniform issue than the others who were more likely to have just had greatcoats issued so I will make sure my first battalion looks a bit smarter. The chaps in any third battalion are going to look very tatty!

I think I will keep them as one unit as I don't think units of 15 or 16 will be that viable using the Charles Grant Rules.

I am so enthused about these figures that I resumed work on the two Dutch jaegers I need to finish my first company of the 28th (the first allied unit really engaged on the day of Quatre Bras). I'm also now thinking about finishing my first cuirassier!

Could a Napoleonic Blog be that far off?

Friday, October 31, 2008

Perry Napoleonic Plastic French

Proper model soldiers, these!

I popped into Orc's Nest today (it's only 400 yards from my office!) to look for a few more Copplestone Ngoni and saw that they had the Perry French Plastic in, so I just had to buy a box. They are absolutely gorgeous; far superior to their rather disappointing ACW figures. Now I can see that I will be basing up French during Strictly Come Dancing tomorrow!

This however, gives me a problem. The figures come with pre cut bases that contemplate 6 Figures on a 40mm base (which I beleive is the norm for General de Brigade). I absolutely prefer to mount my figures on individual bases and make movement trays for them. Especially as I am interested in skirmish gaming for Napoleonics using the Sharp Practice Rules. The rules I used to use for Napoleonics in my Airfix days were the very old school Charles Grant ones which first appeared in Military Modelling in the seventies. These contemplate individual figures (in battalions of 48!) and I suspect that this is what I will go for.

I have always wanted to do portions of Quatre Bras as a wargame and did a lot of research as to the units involved and the numbers of figures you would need (hundreds and hundreds). General Brigade works out at 1/20 but I was thinking about 1/33 which would give French infantry battalions of about 12-14 figures, far too small for the Grant rules. If I combined battalions so that I had four units in, say Bachelu's Division that would give units of about 30: about right.

The great thing about this box is you get 42 figures for £15.00 plus loads of alternative heads and other bits (compared with Warlord's rather stingy 20 Roman Veterans for £17.00).

Now, realistically I have painted exactly five Perry Napoleonics in three years but could this just get me painting them on the production line? I gather that many of the French units for The Hundred Days only had a uniform greatcoat and this would make painting them a lot quicker (about half the figures in the box are so equipped). Can't wait to get home and put the soundtrack to Waterloo on!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Workbench

Warlord Plastic Romans

I'm still hardly painting anything at the moment but I'm basing lots of figures. The lack of painting is due to the bad light and a long business trip to the Gulf (I very much recommend The Chedi hotel if you are ever in Muscat). Also, even my weekends have been taken up by visits to potential schools for my little boy, trips to marble suppliers (for the new fireplace) and other nonsense so it looks like my monthly total will be just the four Sudan War highlanders.

The large amount of basing is due to the fact that I do this when watching TV with the family, which only ever happens at the weekends, if there is a dreadful enough talent show to attract my wife. Currently this is her favourite, Strictly Come Dancing, which is only made bearable by very fit young ladies in very small sparkly costumes jiggling about a lot (especially Ola Jordan). however, it is on twice over the weekend which means that I can get a fair few figures done.
The week before last I did some Anglo Saxons and Vikings to start towards some armies for Stamford Bridge. Last week I worked on some of the Warlord Games plastic Romans. With separate heads, and one arm to stick on they take some time but really don't need much (if anything) in the way of filing or sanding. The only issue I have with them is that the loose arm never really fits properly so that the shoulder armour on the arm you have to stick on is not in the same place as the moulded on one. It won't matter once they are painted, I suppose. Another slight annoyance is that I have also based some of Warlord Games' Roman Auxiliaries and they are slighly bigger than the plastics. Again. hopefully they won't be too obvious and they could arguably be strapping Batavians as against squitty little Italians.

All in all Warlord are getting me quite excited about Romans again. I just bought their new box of Veterans, which are nothing of the sort, but Trajanic Romans from the period of the Second and Third Dacian Wars 101-106AD. I will cover these in my Roman blog which I have expanded in time to cover 1st-4th century AD.

More Trigan Empire than Roman Empire!

They bring back memories of my old Airfix figures. I had hundreds of these and hundreds of Ancient Britons and used to play large games using the Terence Wise rules from Introduction to Battle Gaming. All Warlord need is a nice plastic chariot so I can do chariot racing games!

Painting wise I have started my next four Highlanders and am still working on the next 12 WW1 Germans, and the Zulu War British. I am doing the odd bit on the next Zulus and the Early Saxons too. Trying to concentrate on painting units does seem to be working as a means to restrict me a bit!

This weekend I should have a bit more time so am going to have a push on the Highlanders and the Early Saxons.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Vikings and Anglo Saxons?

My Gripping Beast Vikings

My little boy had to write an essay about the Battle of Stamford Bridge this weekend and mentioned that it would make a great wargame. Quite right too! I am sure that some of the magazines have had scenarios before and maybe it was covered in one of the WAB supplements (Shieldwall?). Can't check as I am in Dubai at the moment. At least there is no temptation here to start up another army just becuse I am visiting somewhere!

So maybe I will have to put my Early Saxons on hold and paint some late Saxons! For wargaming purposes I split the Saxons into three periods: Early Saxons from the Romano-British period (Musketeer make the best ones by a mile), early Anglo-Saxons to take on the Vikings (Kind Alfred period) and late Anglo-Saxons (1066 period). Unfortunately they all look different and finding figures I like for the later period isn't easy. Gripping Beast do some but the range isn't very large. Crusader have a nice range but they are from one of his shorter figure ranges. I have some Black Tree Design ones but they are very variable. I quite like the new Foundry figures but they don't have any kite shaped shields (although GB do them). Maybe I will get some of the Foundry Saxons and give some kite shields (I have a few anyway) as the look stylistically similar to my Foundry and Artizan Vikings.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Painted figures for September

The total was:
Great Northern War Swedes 1
Zulus 16

A total of 17, which was not brilliant as I was hoping to catch up a bit. So far this year I have painted 179 figures in 39 weeks; a total of 4.46 figures a week. I fly to the Gulf on Sunday for a week so that isn't a brilliant start to October either!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Blog Hit Parade: September

Cavegirls continues to be number one even though Google now rate it as an "objectionable" blog, which it certainly should be! Biggest climber is the Great Northern Wars blog which just shows that posting stuff on it does raise the hit rate!

The new Zulu Wars blog has picked up a respectable 169 views in less than a month.

1 (1) Cavegirls in Fur Bikinis 8,104 (94,261)
2 (2) 19th Century Sudan Wargames Armies 2,357 (25,460)
3 (4) Legatus' Wargames Armies 1,699 (18,255 16,556)
4 (3) Pulp Warriors 863 (48,724)
5 (5) Spartan WAB 620 (8,649)
6 (6) Return to Darkest Africa 614 (4,814)
7 (9) Wargaming the Great Northern War 397 (2,954)
8 (7) Dark Ages WAB 385 (2,855)
9 (10) Lord of the Rings: Armies of Middle Earth 285 (1,280)
10 (8) 3rd and 4th Century Roman WAB 276 (2,294)
11 (12) The Great War 226 (731)
12 (11) Punic War WAB 221 (3,326)
13 (0)Wargaming the Zulu War 169 (169)
14 (13) Byzantine WAB 129 (2,371)
15 (14) Swashbucklers 54 (336)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A rationalisation..

Musketeer Saxons: on the shelf, but for how long?

I've not been getting much painted this month as the light is too poor and I just can't paint shading or detail under artificial light, even with a daylight bulb.

I've been basing a lot of new figures and my shelf which holds units in progress has been getting crowded so I decided to have a sort out and put away all the figures I am not likely to be working on for a bit. So away went the unit of 3rd Century Romans, the unit of Caesarian Romans, the late Romans, the Greeks, the Spartans, the Back of Beyond Chinese and the Ngoni. This immediately made me feel better and less under pressure!

Going forward I have nearly finished the first Empress Zulus and have made a start on the British. The Zulus have taken longer than I thought, especially the shields. I also have another unit of WW1 Prussian Guards under way. I may do a few more Beja before I get any more Zulus as I want to finish the next Rub of 60 figures. I have also based some Musketeer Early Saxons so might do the odd colour on those (they take ages) whilst I get on with the others.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Colours 2008

The Lance and Longbow Game at Colours
Colours is becoming my favourite show so I was pleased to see so many people there on the Sunday; it certainly looked busier than the year before.

I was quite restrained and bought some Great War Miniatures Gemans, some Warlord Miniatures Romans and Celts, some more Perry Sudan and some Crusader mounted gladiators. I also had a very brief chat with Bill at Musketeer Miniatures. He didn't have any GNW figures there but I bought some early Saxons and some of his new BEF British. Actually they are from his "Irish War of Independence" range but I am afraid I still see these as Irish terrorists and can't understand why anyone games them unless they are Irish or Bostonian (and therefore misled). Nevertheless the British are gorgeous, albeit slighter than Great War Miniatures and Renegade. The good news is that he plans to turn these into a full BEF range.

More goood news is that I actually saw a GNW Russian pikeman and he is re-organising his Swedes so that you get two ensigns in a pack. I still think that Musketeer Miniatures are turning out some of the most appealing figures in the market at the moment and don't regret any of the purchases from Bill's ranges. Indian Mutiny, yes please!

My favourite game was the medieaval one from the Lance and Longbow Society although my little boy favoured the two set at Pegasus Bridge. He has been to Pegasus Bridge this year with the school and was happily chatting with the (very friendly) people running the 28mm game. Some benefits from his £12, 500 a year school fees I suppose!

Monday, September 08, 2008

Tanks for the Memory..

My favourite Airfix tank!

I've always liked tanks. My first wargaming at school was Western Desert WW2 and my friends, Bean-Kid, Cesspit and Jimbo built dozens and dozens of Airfix Kits and mixed them in with many out of scale RoCo minitanks and fought vast battles in our dining room on our 7' x 7' board. I still have many of these and my little boy quite happily manoeuvers them across the carpet in very unhistorical clashes with Japanese, French and Russian tanks. I then started buying the ESCI tanks at university but made very few and now sell them off for outrageous prices on eBay -£42 is the record for one Italian tank!.

I also started to build some of the Tamiya 1/35 tanks kits while I was at school: the Tiger, the Hanomag halftrack with Panzer grenadiers (when it came out - I still remember the Military Modelling article on how to build it), the Stug III (complete with snowy base) and my favourite, the Jagdpanther.

I love the new Chieftan metal kits and have bought a Panzer III (unbuilt, as yet) but still feel a bit queasy about WW2 wargaming.

Blamma blamma!

However my little boy's new interest in Warhammer 40K (which they play at school) has suddenly made me realise that I can build big tank models without worrying about depicting a war where my family fought on both sides (British and Austrian). So today I visited the happy smiling people at my local Games Workshop and picked up a Space Marine Razorback. When I opened the box it brought back all sorts of happy Tamiya feelings but I can build it without feeling guilty about being a war-mongering, fascist wierdo, as it's all make believe!

Yippee! Still need to get the Zulus finished first though!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Space Marine Terminator Stage 1

Well, this is my first Warhammer 40,000 figure and I have now undercoated it and done a nice rubble strewn base. Looking at all the detail it is actually quite daunting but I will have a go. I'm even using (horrors) acrylic paint! I will do the arms separately.

I have had to create a new 40k folder in the wargames section of my pc. How embarrassing! I am far too old to be painting this! I was born well before there even was a Games Workshop!

Warhammer 40,000. Surely not?

No academic historical justification whatsoever. They are toys!

I have been buying White Dwarf for the last few years solely for the Lord of the Rings stuff. I also occasionally read the Warhammer articles but always ignore the 40K pieces as I have no interest in weird looking SF armies blasting away at each other at sub-medieval firearms ranges. But. Having looked at the free figures with this month's White Dwarf I thought; maybe I might paint them as an exercise. Then I thought, "these are really nicely detailed". Then I thought, maybe I can have a go at painting them in a non-pristine GW way. Just as Star Wars revolutionised the depiction of the future (I know, it was really the past) so shouldn't these figures look battered and grungy. Maybe I can paint them in a battleworn way. Inside the magazine was an article pushing the new boxed set, Assault on Black Reach, and it wasn't a huge jump to thinking, "maybe I will just pick this up and play a game with my little boy". Sadly, there is a GW shop exactly 170 yards from my new office and I soon found myself having the sort of, longer than you intended when you went in, discussion with one of the in-store Moonies/Scientologists. Anyway they promised to get me a set a day early and I am really really thinking about it. This way madness lies, for sure!

September target

Giles Allison revealed that he has a bucket load of figures to paint for his forthcoming AWI mega-game in a couple of months. I am running seriously behind on my monthly totals so I need to have a good go too.

I usually paint batches of six figures at a time and try to get six figures done a week but I have seriously fallen behind on that the last few months. I am, therefore, going to try a completely different aproach this month and rather than try to do so many a week I am going to aim to complete a certain amount by the end of the month. I am working on a number of groups of figures: 12 WW1 Germans, 16 Zulu War British, 16 Zulus and 10 GNW Swedes. I am just going to try to get all of these moving along without fretting about finishing "x" by Sunday. Let's see how it goes!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Painted Figures for August

Much better due to the fact that I cranked out a few on holiday.

The total was:

Sudan British 1
WW1 German 12
Great Northern War Swedes 6
Spartan Hoplites 4

A total of 23. So far this year I have painted 162 figures in 35 weeks a total of 4.6 figures a week and well under my target. I should have painted 210 so am over 50 adrift. Oh dear! Lets see what we can do this month!

Painting Objectives 2008: Second Update

It's time to review the progress on the second four months of my painting objectives.

My initial priorities in January were:

Sudan British and Beja
Great Northern War Swedes
Dark Ages Early Saxons
Ancient Greeks and Spartans

I also added Darkest Africa in May.

Secondary targets were:
Punic War Spanish
Back of Beyond
Lord of the Rings
WW1 East Africa
Napoleonic Quatre Bras
3rd Century Romans and Palmyrans
Caesarian Romans
Wars of the Roses mounted men at arms

What I have done from May to August is as follows:

Sudan British: 1
Sudan Beja: 1
Great Northern War: 11
Dark Ages: 0
Greeks and Spartans: 10
Darkest Africa: 12

Of my lesser priority category I did the following:

Back of Beyond: 2
WW1: 16
Swashbucklers: 1
Gladiators: 9

So going forward for the next four months I think that my priorities will be as follows:

I must get those cursed Highlanders done (at least I have started them) plus some more Beja. I am well on the way to finishing the second rub of 60 figures. I also have an Egyptian and a British field gun to do.

Great Northern War
Musketeer Miniatures are promising Russian pikemen and command over the next few weeks. I am progressing well on the Sewedish infantry so will do some more.

Darkest Africa
With the Zulu War to do I think I will back of the Ngoni and Ruga Ruga for a bit, although I have five more of the latter under way.

The Great War
I am really enjoying painting my Prussian Guards so will do some more of these definitely.

Zulu War
I love the new Empress figures and will get going on these.

Likewise the new Alban riflemen are tremedous and French Voltigeurs are on the way.

Lord of the Rings
I have started some plastic knights of Minas Tirith and these are pretty quick to paint so will try and finish these by Christmas. I always play a Battle Companies game with my little boy at Christmas so maybe I can complete an Orc force for that as well.

Blog Hit Parade: August

I expected August to be down a little because of the holidays and that is true of every site except the Dark Ages one which is this month's highest climber. The numbers are down on Sudan a bit but it has overtaken Pulp. At least I managed an entry on the Sudan site last month!

It is interesting to note that the monthly totals are largely the same; often only about 10% different month to month. Also number of postings does not seem to effect the totals. The question is, therefore, do I do more postings for the low scoring sites (and hence paint more figures) or do I respond to ones where the views are increasing. On the former method I should be working on Swashbucklers and on the latter, Dark Ages. I quite fancy doing some Dark Ages figures again, though, for reasons I will put on my Dark Ages blog in the next few days.

1 (1) Cavegirls in Fur Bikinis 9,288 (86,157)
2 (3) 19th Century Sudan Wargames Armies 2,362 (23,103)
3 (2) Pulp Warriors 2,089 (47,861)
4 (4) Legatus' Wargames Armies 1,439 (16,556)
5 (5) Spartan WAB 545 (8,029)
6 (6) Return to Darkest Africa 538 (4,200)
7 (9) Dark Ages WAB 320 (2,470)
8 (7) 3rd and 4th Century Roman WAB 286 (2,018)
9 (8) Wargaming the Great Northern War 266 (2,557)
10 (11) Lord of the Rings: Armies of Middle Earth 228 (995)
11 (12) Punic War WAB 194 ( 3,105)
12 (13) The Great War 150 (505)
13 (13) Byzantine WAB 145 (2,242)
14 (14) Swashbucklers 34 (282)

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Painted figures for July

Another bad month. One Spartan and five Great Northern War Swedes. Oh well.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Holiday painting.

I need to start thinking about what figures to take on holiday this year. I usually take a dozen or so of one type to get on with when I am away.

I really have four choices:

I have some Renegade German WW1 infantry to finish. The advantage of these is that they are about half done and it shouldn't take too long to finish them

I have bought some of Empress Miniatures new Zulu War British and I really want to get on with these but don't have the relevant uniform information: unless I order the Osprey and have it sent to our house on the Isle of Wight.

I have some more GNW Swedes based up and these are nice and quick to paint but I am getting bored with GNW as it is months and months since we had any new figures from Musketeer Miniatures. Just a few Russian infantry would be nice!

I am due to do a Romans v Celts game at Guildford in Spetember but I need more Celts. I have bought a box of Warlord Games plastics so maybe that would be best. The problem with these is that I would need to take a lot more paints.

Tricky. Still not sure. Still got time to think though.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Blog Hit parade July

Cavegirls is still getting the most hits but Pulp Warriors has moved up a place pushing Sudan down to number three again, but Sudan did get 1500 more views than last month.

In fact, each site's totals are up this month; odd because I recorded the figures a bit late last month so they should have been down. Biggest climber, up three places, is the Great War site. I hope to finish a Sudan character this weekend and put up a blog entry on him. Also hope to finish my GNW ensign too. Sadly nothing else is close to being finished so it will be another very thin month.

1 (1) Cavegirls in Fur Bikinis 11,841 (76,869)
2 (3) Pulp Warriors 3,317 (45,772)
3 (2) 19th Century Sudan Wargames Armies 2,827 (20,741)
4 (4) Legatus' Wargames Armies 1,784 (15,117)
5 (5) Spartan WAB 712 (7,483)
6 (6) Return to Darkest Africa 500 (3,662)
7 (9) 3rd and 4th Century Roman WAB 379 (1,732)
8 (8) Wargaming the Great Northern War 305 (2,291)
9 (10) Dark Ages WAB 278 (2,150)
10 (13) The Great War 257 (355)
11 (11) Lord of the Rings: Armies of Middle Earth 239 (767)
12 (7) Punic War WAB 226 ( 2,911)
13 (12) Byzantine WAB 151 (2,097)
14 (14) Swashbucklers 46 (248)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

To the Redoubt

My little boy liked the Gatling Gun replica!

I went to the To the Redoubt show today at Eastbourne Redoubt (naturally).

Its a very small show with only about ten traders there but I went because Dave Andrews was there and they had a small exhibition of Zulu Wars stuff which I wanted to look at before I start work on my Empress Miniatures figures, which arrived very quickly after I ordered them this week and look splendidly Victorian.

The Redoubt hosts the Royal Sussex Regimental Museum and the Royal Irish Hussars Museum. Running until November is the special exhibition by the Anglo Zulu Wars Historical Association. There were a hundred Zulu War medals on display, a full sized replica of a Gatling Gun and some Zulu shields and weapons actually collected from the battlefield at Rorke's Drift. Most impressive to me, however, was a picee of paper with King Cetshwayo's signature on it; I always find seeing the signatures of famous people a real way to link to them. Definitely worth a look.

Other than the exhibition I bought quite a bit at Dave Andrews stand. Quite a few Great Wars Miniatures early World War 1 stuff, (they look very compatible with my Renegade figures), some Perry Sudan British cavalry and Camel Corps (so I can combine them and try to make some mounted infantry), some Artizan Spartan light infantry and a very nice Sabretooth from Dee Zee Minaitures. I also got the last Touching History book by Paul Darnell and a book called Blood Red Sand by Michael Barthorp.

Not too bad! Now I have to decide what to take with me to paint on holiday. Only two weeks this year becuase of starting my new job half way through the year.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Warlord Games Plastics!

Well, contrary to my earlier thoughts I have gone and bought a box each of the Warlord Games Romans and Celts. I realise that they won't be compatible with my existing metal figures but have been won over by Warlord's determination to produce full ranges and actually start to deliver on this by already producing alternative metal command, auxiliaries, slingers, archers etc. The fact that they are now promising Dacians has convinced me that they are worth investing in. The recent news that they are producing officially licensed characters from Simon Scarrow's books has added weight to my decision to go plastic.

I have looked at the site today and they have got greens of high command, marching Romans carrying their equipment and female Celts up. Added to that they have a scorpion out. This is excellent, they are really delivering. I may have to take the box of Romans with me on holiday and see if I can get it painted. I may even go for red tunics (all of my Romans have white tunics) as the fashion seems to have gone back from white to red.

I haven't had a chance to look at them in detail yet as I only got them from Orc's Nest yesterday afternoon but I will try to make some up soon.

There are problems with the figures, such as not all the Romans have pila and not all the Celts have shields but they have answered the latter criticism by offering some metal accessories: it's nice to find a firm that is so responsive to customers views. The lack of shields issue caused a right stink on their forum. Whether a plastic figure with a metal shield will stand up or not remains to be seen!

My existing Romans are the large Steve Saleh ones for Foundry. It was supposed to be the start of a full range but he left (along with everyone else) before the range really got going leaving only a few poses. I thought my units looked alright all in the same pose, given the regimentation of the Romans, but the massed units produced from the Warlord boxed sets do look nice, in a Warhammery way. No doubt the influence of Paul Sawyer, the former editor of White Dwarf, and one of the people behind Warlord, explains this approach to mass units rather than an individual focus (just as it explains the annoying, relentlessly blokey communication style of the firm).

The individual metal figures are superb too and I think I will buying a lot of them over the next few months!

I've got a game of Romans v Celts in ten days time at Guildford and I have discovered I only have 700 points of Celts when I need 1000 but I will just bung some Ancient Germans in to make up the numbers! I don't think I will be able to build and paint 30 Celts in time!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


The new Empress British. The painter did a great job. If I can do half as well on mine I will be pleased!

As I noted on the introduction to my Sudan blog it was the film Zulu that got me into colonial wargaming and I painted a lot of those Revell plastics. I never found a satisfactory range in 28mm. The two main rivals, I suppose were Black Tree Design and Redoubt.

Black Tree Design have a wide range of poses but the anatomy of the figures is variable: some are excellent, some are a bit odd. The real problem with them is the strange interpretations of the helmets with odd ridges on them where all there should be are seams.

The Redoubt range is also comprehensive as to different troop types although their are less poses of individual infantry. The figures look quite old and on the internet anyway look a bit indistinct in their sculpting and casting. One of the reasons I like the Musketeer Miniatures figures so much, even though they are rather exaggerated compared with, say, the Perries, is that you know exactly what you are painting.

So I was delighted to see a new range of Zulu War figures by an equally new company called Empress Miniatures. These are sculpted by Paul Hicks, who is rapidly getting up there with the best sculptors on the planet now. They look a bit chunkier than my usual taste (but that is often the result of the photography) but are very crisply sculpted. I have immediately ordered one of each of the four packs that have come out.

The owners (who claim to be women, which is unusual in itself) say that the range will be complete for all troop types in the war. Sensibly, they are going for a release schedule of first some redcoats, then some Zulus, then back to British again, so you can build an army and its opponents at the same time.

I know these will distract me from the Sudan but I have always wanted to do Zulu War British!

The greens of the Zulus are up on the site too and they look great and should be quick to paint (excellent, as you need thousands of 'em!)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Visit to Washington DC

I have just come back from my first visit to Washington DC which, contrary to my expectations I found to be a splendid and rather European city. I had been led to believe that the place was full of muggers, down and outs and druggies but felt much safer than in, say, Los Angeles (or indeed Nottingham!). It was, however, as hot as everyone said it would be!

The Hay-Adams. A very good hotel indeed!

Partly I suspect this was because I was staying in a hotel about two hundred yards from the White House so the police and security presence was rather visible. This was the small but perfectly formed Hay-Adams which was built in 1928. I could actually see the White House from my bedroom window!

I managed to get out and about in the city twice as I was there at the weekend. On the first trip I walked from the hotel into the mall and went down to the Lincoln Memorial. I visited the three war memorials in the area; the Koran War Memorial, the World War 2 Memorial and the Vietnam War memorial. All three were impressive in very different ways.

The World War 2 memorial was large and literally monumental, with its pillar for every state.

1:1 scale metal Korean War figures!

The Korean War memorial was very evocative with its life sized metal figures on patrol.

The most effective, because of its simplicity was the Vietnam memorial. I was surprised that some Americans I met didn’t like it as I thought it was the most moving memorial I have seen, simply because it focuses on the names of the people killed without any statuesque military bravado.

There were many small posies of flowers and little notes left by relatives which of course, you rarely get at memorials to older conflicts.

It certainly made me realise why I am unhappy about wargaming conflicts that are still in living memory and have yet to pass into the realm of history. Wargaming is a trivial pursuit and it does seem wrong to turn something into a game which was such a recent reality for people who are still living. Of course there is no difference between the suffering of Vietnam combatants and their families and those of Waterloo, or Edgehill or Towton but it does seem disrespectful to me to be playing a game when there are still people around who had to fight in that war or people who lost close friends and relations in it. I think if you actually fought in that war then you have the right to game it but otherwise I’m slightly uncomfortable about it. It was my father who got me interested in military history and then wargaming and I used to play WW2 at school but then he fought in North Africa and Italy in WW2 and Palestine after the War. He was in 2nd battalion the Sherwood Foresters which fought in Tunisia at Sedjenane and the Medjez Plain. I suppose if I did do WW2 then I would do Tunisia as I would feel I have enough family connection to justify it (sort of). My thinking on this is rather muddy but I know that modern wargaming does make me feel a bit unsettled.

This all slightly falls down as I am working on some WW1 figures at present but then, again, my grandfather was in the Kings Royal Rifle Corps in World War 1 (before joining the Royal Flying Corps). I am unusual amongst my contemporaries in having had a father who fought in WW2 and a grandfather in WW1. Most of my friend’s parents were too young but my father was 37 when I was born (very unusual for 1960).

It was rather frustrating in travelling to and from Dulles Airport (which I did six times!) to see road signs to Centreville and Manassas and not be able to get there. My second walking trip took me to the Natural History Museum (some useful Cavegirls in Fur Bikinis material) and the National Gallery of Art (a couple of very famous Renoirs). I really enjoyed the Air and Space Museum and was impressed by the Ulysses S Grant memorial in front of the Capitol (oh no, must resist ACW).

I also had a meeting in the Eisenhower Executive Building which was built as the State, War and Navy Building in the 1870s and 1880s. I enjoyed walking the same rather grand corridors as Churchill, Roosevelt and Eisenhower and was very impressed by the number of doors the offices of the White House Counsel had; all very West Wing!

All in all there is a lot more to see in Washington DC so I hope I can get back there in the not too distant future.