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.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Agincourt? No! No! No!

I have just noticed that Bernard Cornwell has a new novel about Agincourt coming out, telling the story of Nicholas Hook, an English Archer. Now many people can't stand Cornwell and certainly his output can be variable, but he does write well about battles so this will be a must buy for me. No details on it's publication date yet though.

This does bode ill for my attempts to continue to resist the Perry Agincourt to Orleans figures, however.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Back painting again.

I haven't done much painting in the last six weeks or so. It's probably to do with all the stress of moving to my new job, which I have now been in in a month. I am finding the surroundings of Oxford Street much more stressful than the City; just walking about, given all the milling language students, shoppers, tourists, Hare Krishna acolytes etc., is a nightmare. Never mind I am within a few minutes walk of Games Workshop, Orc's Nest, Forbidden Planet, Model Zone and Foyles. Lunchtimes are proving to b expensive; good job I'm getting paid more!

The last few weekends have been tied up with taking the children to various events (how did my little baby girl turn into a five foot five inch dancer/choreographer) so it was only on Saturday afternoon that I got down to some proper painting again. I have just taken delivery of a batch of Alban Miniatures lovely new British Riflemen to go with my Sharpe and Harper figures which I got as a giveaway with the Sharp Practice rules last month. They really are fantastic figures and I hope the range grows. Ideally, some manky looking Frenchmen (are there any other kind?), some less uniformed looking riflemen, some Spanish guerrillas (a female one in leather trousers would be nice!) and a few regular British from a fictitious Essex Regiment would all result in purchases! I have started the riflemen but they do suffer from Perry tiny strap syndrome. They are all perfectly correct and in proportion, but it's just I can't bear painting straps and belts, which is why skirmish Napoleonic has got to be the way to go for me.

What has really got me painting again are the Musketeer Miniatures Great Northern War Swedes. These are the complete opposite of the Alban figures: really easy to paint. I'm hoping to have got six more done before I fly to Washington DC on Saturday. I'm getting a little bit done every morning at the moment.

The workbench today: Front: GNW Swedes well on the way, next back Alban Miniatures Riflemen, next row a few more Artizan Spartans, a Perry Sudan command figure and some more Foundry Gladiators and after that Renegade WW1 Germans. Well to the rear are more Perry Beja and Copplestone Ngoni.