Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Oh no, more new ranges!

Some of my Musketeer Early Saxons

I really like the sculpting style of Bill Thornhill of Musketeer Miniatures and have painted quite a lot of his Great Northern War and Early Saxon figures.  They really are a delight to paint!

L to R: Musketeer, Great War Miniatures and Renegade

Today he has announced not just one but four new ranges!  At Musketeer he is going to produce early war Germans for the Great War.  Now the BEF figures that Musketeer produced are the nicest Great War figures that I have seen but, sadly, they are quite small compared with Great War Miniatures and Renegade (of whose range I have painted quite a few early war Germans). Actually, I think the British were sculpted by Paul Hicks (who is launching his own early WW1 range this year) so maybe Bill's chunkier style will work with my Renegades.

Next up, he has announced that once he has finished on the Great Northern War range (obviously the Danes are never going to appear) this year he will also be working on a new range for the Sikh Wars.  Now, of course, I have already bought into the Studio Miniatures Sikh Wars Kickstarter but having two manufacturers doing the period in 28mm could be a good thing, if they are compatible.  I really am fussy about figures going together and can't understand people who can have figures of different sizes in the same army.

Footsore French Officer

He has also set up a new company in the US, where he now lives, called Footsore Miniatures.  He has announced two ranges for this firm: Caesar's Gallic Wars and, first, the Franco Prussian War.  Both will be of interest to me.   The Franco Prussian War figures could start to be released as early as March.  I have always been interested in this but the lack of a good modern range of figures has, fortunately, put me off. Certainly, the initial almost completed first figure is very impressive.

So much for reducing the lead pile this year!

Today, encouraged by Giles' comments, I have been listening to Korngold's Symphony, which was premiered in October 1954.  It's a symphony of mixed moods; with a Brucknerian third movement and a more typically "swashbuckling" finale.   The second movement's style will be very familiar to anyone who has listened to John Williams' soundtrack to E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.  Or, rather, the styles are the other way round!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Afghans and more!

I seem to be posting every day at present, which may have something to do with the fact that I am actually painting again.  Although I did not finish any figures this weekend, despite Sofie's Paint Table Saturday, I did get a good few hours done each day and have moved my Servants of Ra along enough that I hope to finish six figures at least, before the weekend.  I still can't find my copy of the In Her Majesty's Name rules, however.

Now, Wargames News and Terrain is an excellent site for spotting the new and shiny (I probably shouldn't look at it) and today they have a picture up of the first in what will be a Second Afghan War range from Artizan.  Now this really is a conflict I have always wanted to game but there isn't a good range of figures out there for it.  Artizan, however, have a patchy record on completing ranges.  Their Arab Revolt range never took off at all and while their French Foreign Legion range has an impressive 34 packs their opponents have just four and no cavalry (which is a common complaint I have with many of their ranges).  So an Artizan range is a risk.  Still, I'm prepared to take a punt on these!

So, looking forward across the rest of 2014, the new ranges I am planning to buy into are these Afghan War figures, the North Star Pirates and the North Star Biblicals.  There is also the little matter of the new theatre, but not new period, figures I have ordered from Perry Miniatures and figures from three Kickstarters that haven't arrived yet: Mars Attacks, the Sikh Wars and 15mm Ancients.  More than enough to keep me going.

As regards existing projects I am hoping to do more IHMN and Empire of the Dead (I have about twenty under way at present), get my Latin American Wars of Independence figures moving along and doing more for the Argonauts project.  I'd like to get on with my Baluchis for my Zambezi project too.  I'd also like to finish my Perry Prussians.  Busy, Busy.

Several people have noted that Colours won't be running this year, which is a shame as it is probably my favourite show.  At least, it is the one where I spend the most but that is because I can drive there in about an hour so can buy things like big lumps of resin from Grand Manner, which I can't at Salute.  I don't like Warfare, which follows Colours, so much because it always feels a bit too cramped and the process of driving into and, more importantly, out of Reading is very stressful.  The Legatus is not an experienced driver (I didn't learn to drive until I was 28 and have never owned a car) so finds Reading's notorious one way system horrendous!

Finally, it was Burns' Night on Saturday and although, unlike my wife and, therefore, my children, I don't have any Scottish blood I thought I would cook a haggis for the first time.  It was absolutely delicious, I have to say!  I had it with peas as it is not exactly a low calorie dish.  Now about those Sudan War highlanders I started...

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Fortieth Anniversary of Dungeons & Dragons

This was the set of rules we used - the 1977 Advanced Dungeons and Dragons release

Today, it seems, is the fortieth anniversary of the release of Dungeons & Dragons.  Or, more properly, the day on which the fortieth anniversary of Dungeons and Dragons is being officially celebrated, as no-one seems quite sure what day it was released or even what "release" might constitute.  Certainly, January 1974 is agreed on as its birth month.

For some reason I always thought that it was an older game than this, going back to the sixties.  This means that when the Legatus first started playing it in September 1979 the game was only five years old.  Of course, I haven't played a game since 1980 so my flirtation with it didn't last very long!  I'd been playing proper wargames (rather than just solo Airfix clashes in the garden) since about 1972 although my wargaming activity (at least with school friends) had tailed off during the sixth form as I enjoyed archery and some rather more entertaining games with my first girlfriend from the archery club.

I'm afraid archery girl got the push when I went to university especially when I discovered she was rather younger than she claimed to be, although you wouldn't guess from her physical development, however. Anyway when my new girlfriend in my first term  at  university, C, suggested we go along to the Oxford University Dungeons and Dragons Society (now the Oxford University Role Playing Society) I had, at least, a passing knowledge of what the game was about.  I think someone else at school played it but I wasn't interested as it didn't use scenery and then, as now, nice figures and scenery are more important to me than game play.  This feeling was reinforced last year when I sat down at Colours to play Big Red Bat's Thapsus game.  Such lovely figures! Such splendid scenery!  I was quite happy gazing admiringly at the whole set up and would have been so without moving a single figure in anger. 

Exeter College

Anyway, I didn't know what to expect when C and I went along to Exeter College for our first game.  It being thirty six years ago I remember very little about it.  There were about eight players.  The Dungeon master was a beardy chemist (aren't all chemists beardy? -even the girls -like dwarfs, I suppose) and we soon discovered, as humble law students, that many of the puzzles he set required A Level Physics, Chemistry or Maths to solve.  In the game we seemed to be regularly confronted by three dwarfs called Thiamine, Niacin and Riboflavin, which tells you everything you need to know about him. The dungeon, disappointingly, was just a series of rooms drawn on lined paper laid out like dominoes as the quest progressed. We did at least have painted figures to use, which we borrowed, although they didn't have a female miniatures for C.  I suggested using a dwarf instead (she always claimed to be five foot two - hmm) but got one of the regular thumps that seemed to punctuate our relationship.  I didn't thump her of course; just tied her up once in a while but she wanted me to do that. C was the only girl there and, I gather, the only girl to ever turn up.  These days the OURPS has several women on its committee but there were a lot less women at the university then. 1979 was the first year that most colleges went mixed (my college had gone mixed in 1973, one of the reasons I chose it) so the two years above us had only a few hundred women from the four women's colleges to go around about 4,000 men.  Our year was far more even, thank goodness.

The Legatus and C in 1980: I have no idea why I thought purple would be a good colour scheme for clothes!

We went to D&D every week and over Christmas I bought some miniatures to represent us, so we didn't have to borrow them.  I've no idea where these figures came from.  I can't think that there was a shop where I could have bought them so they must have been mail order. An advertisement in Military Modelling, perhaps.  I painted up the female figure with red hair (Humbrol number 100) which went down well.  We developed a tradition that after every D&D evening we would have a bath together in the one decent (i.e. heated) bathroom in college, on Heberden staircase.  I think this might have been brought on by the fact that the room we used to meet in always seemed to be cold.  C really felt the cold.  Soon the baths became more interesting (perhaps they always were) than the games and we stopped going to D&D in the summer term.  I haven't played it since.

Still, I put the fact that I was in the OUD&D Society on my law firm applications and the firm that actually hired me mentioned it in my interview and later said it made my CV look a bit different.  So maybe all that dwarf chasing had been worthwhile after all.  Still preferred the baths though.

Today's post's music is the Moscow Symphony Orchestra's reconstruction of the complete score to The Sea Hawk (1940), Erich Wolfgang Korngold's greatest score, despite his Oscar for The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)).  In my first year at Oxford I bought an LP of Korngold's music (which I had loved since I first saw The Adventures of Robin Hood) conducted by Charles Gerhardt and put together with George Korngold, the composer's son.  The Gerhardt recordings date from 1972 but for sheer panache they haven't been surpassed, although there have been many new and more complete versions of Korngold's scores since.  Gerhradt's recordings did a lot towards rehabilitating Korngold, who had become desperately unfashionable in the fifties and sixties.  These days you can buy many recordings of his work and his symphony and violin concerto have both entered the classical repertoire.  Unfortunately, and unbelievably, when Gerhardt was putting together his suites of music for his recordings he was given Korngold's original score and cut it up and blacked out pieces he wasn't going to use.  That his son would allow this is even more amazing but perhaps he believed that this would be the only modern recording of his father's music, so just let it happen.  As a result, the score for this 2007 version had to be painstakingly reconstructed.

C didn't like Korngold and said it was just typical Hollwood film music (I think she was tone deaf, she only had three cassettes of music) but as Andre Previn observed, in the notes to his own recordings of excerpts from The Sea Hawk and other scores, it wasn't that Korngold sounded like film music it was that much film music started to sound like Korngold.  Every person who writes an orchestral film score  (especially John Williams) owes a huge debt to Korngold, who created much of the soundtrack idiom still in use today

Anyway, perfect background for swashbuckling games of Donnybrook, I would venture, although Korngold's score for Captain Blood (1935) has the advantage  in that the beginning of the film depicts the Monmouth Rebellion.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Paint Table Saturday

It's Sofie's Paint Table Saturday!  I can't believe that Saturday has come around again already.  For the first time in about nine months I got some painting done during the week so have added a trio of Foundry pirates to my batch for this weekend.  Guy's rowing has been cancelled, due to the still perilous nature of the river, so I actually have this morning to paint and the light is not too bad for once.

My main target is to progress, although not necessarily complete, seven figures for my In Her Majesty's Name Servants of Ra company.  The pirates and the Moriarty figure will also get some attention.  Aim: to finish one figure by the end of the day!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Something for the weekend...steampunk heroines

This weekend we have some steampunk cheesecake heroines to celebrate my new Victoriana blog...  They are here.

Thursday, January 23, 2014


I read about this new set of rules out of The League of Augsburg in this month's Wargames Illustrated, so I ordered a set which arrived today.  It sounds ideal for me as it is for skirmish gaming for the period from 1660 until 1760.  I am attracted to many of the armies from this period but the sheer number of figures need for, say, the Marlburian period has put me off.  These rules contemplate forces of around 20-30 figures (and no more than 48) per side.

The rules look at a number of different conflicts during the period covered.

The English Possession of Tangier 1661-1684

I have seen a wargame set in this period at one of the shows shortly after Mark Coppletsone's Glory of the Sun figures came out.  The big issue on this one would be finding Berbers with appropriate weaponry.  Too hard.

The Dutch Wars 1665-78

This is very interesting because of the Copplestone figures.  The only problem being with them that they are in uniform poses which are not so good for skirmishing.  Still, this is one I will investigate.

Bacon's Rebellion in America 1676

Never heard of this one and not really interested.

Dragonades persecution of the Huguenots 1681-85, Camisard Revoltr 1702-15

Like many of the conflicts in the book they involve too many civilians, figures which are often difficult to source

Covenanter Rebellions 1666 and 1679, Argyll Rebellion 1685, The Jacobite Wars 1689-92

Again not interested in these.  Too much plaid!

The Monmouth Rebellion 1685

On my regular visit to a girlfriend who lived in Somerset in the early eighties I used to cross the battlefield of Sedgemoor which was also featured in Rafael Sabatini's Captain Blood.  There was a big game of Sedgemoor doing the rounds at the shows a few years ago  and I know that at least one manufacturer has a dedicated range for the rebellion.  The problem is I can't remember which!  If anyone knows...  Interested in this one.

The Glorious Revolution 1688

I don't know much about this but I have a feeling that there wasn't much actual fighting.

The War of the Grand Alliance 1688-97

Interested in this, given the Copplestone figures, although it's at the back end of what they work for.

King William's War 1688-97

Too many civilian clothes again.

The Darien Adventure 1689-99

The Scots try to colonise Panama.  This is largely a what if sort of scenario, which I am not very keen on (I can't see the appeal of the new Perry British for the ACW, for example) but there were a few skirmishes so it might be worth a bit more research.  It would be fun to play a game set in Panama, given I went there last year.

Witch trials and persecutions

Really not interested in this.

The War of the Spanish Succession 1701-1715

I hate to admit it but I know absolutely nothing about this period except that they had really nice uniforms.

Other conflicts not mentioned in the book, but which might be interesting for me for this set of rules include the Great Northern War and the French Indian War.  It could also work for pirates against local government troops too (if anyone ever bothered to make the latter!).  If the rules take off, which I have a feeling they will, the authors have many ideas for extensions and even a range of figures.

The rules are beautifully produced with lots of excellent colour photographs.  Some of the pages tell a story almost in the manner of Look & Learn magazine.  There is flexibility as to how you organise your units, given what figures you have.  So if your allowance includes 12 figures of one type you can put them in one unit of twelve, two of six, three of four etc.  The actions are card driven but you need some exotic dice to resolve combat.  Given I can't read a set of rules and for the life of me work out what is supposed to happen any further look at these will have to be done by someone a lot cleverer than me.

So, I'll try to give it a read later and see if my vague ideas coalesce into something more solid.

The only slightly dubious thing about Donnybrook is the lifting of a girl from a Frank Frazetta painting on the cover.  Frazetta's estate is notoriously litigious but mainly they are suing each other at present and so maybe the image is just different enough to not attract attention.  I wouldn't have risked it though!  The authors say that the figure was deliberately done in the "character of a Frazetta heroine".  Hmm, as a published artist myself there is a big difference between doing something in the style of an artist and copying a pose exactly.

This post was written to the soundtrack of Cuthroat Island (1995) by John Debney.  An example of the soundtrack being much better than the original film.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Allan Quatermain and another blog!

I can't start a new year without a new blog so I have decided to lump all my steampunk and other Victoriana into a new one called Legatus' Victoriana Wargames.  This will cover In Her Majesty's Name, Empire of the Dead and anything else which is nineteenth century skirmish based and outside Africa (I have a hankering for Wild West this year!).  One of the things I want to do this year is go back to the neglected blogs and try to do at least one thing for each so they don't look quite so sadly abandoned.

Of course, this brings the number of my wargaming blogs to 22.  Some people have wondered why I don't consolidate all my posts into one blog.  Well, apart from the fact it's too late to go back at this stage, I really like having separate ones for each period as I am often reminded of something I have half finished by looking at the various blog titles and thinking something like "now, where is that half finished unit of Carthaginian veterans?"  I set up the first blog to focus my painting (hollow laugh) and I do find that even if I don't do any painting I can at least do something on one of the blogs (especially if I am abroad).  

The first proper post (I have copied my other appropriate posts across too) is of my newly painted West Wind Allan Quatermain.  I have to acknowledge that Sofie's Paint Table Saturday is giving me a boost to get stuff done at the weekend and I am now evolving, for 2014, a process of working on one unit and one character at a time. 

I'm also going to note down the music I was listening to when I wrote each post.  Today it is the Symphony No 1 by Lars-Erik Larsson a hugely underrated Swedish composer who sounds like, as Sophie once put it, "Sibelius with tunes".   His piece Dagens Stunder (The hours of the day) is one of the most atmospheric and melodic pieces of music I know and deserves to be much better known.

Monday, January 20, 2014

First Unit of 2014 - Warriors of Erebor

Well, largely thanks to Sofie and the inspiration of her Paint Table Saturday, I finished my box of Erebor Dwarves from The Hobbit (more about them here).  I haven't finished this many figures in one go since last March when I did 12 Darkest Africa Askari.

They were reasonably quick to paint but probably because I didn't obsess about as tidy a finish as I could.  I really need to use my limited painting time to get more done!  Next Dwarvish job is to repaint the bases of my Grim Hammers to match.  Then I better get some orcs!

I've also nearly early finished another Empire of the Dead figure too with just the metallic paint to do!  One thing that was putting me off getting on with my painting was that when I varnished Irene Adler she came out rather shiny.  No matter how much I stirred the varnish it stayed with a silk finish.  Worried about having shiny dwarves, I opened another tin of Humbol varnish and this was fine so I gave Irene another coat and she is fine now too.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Paint Table Saturday

An entry for Sofie's Paint Table Saturday (although I can't work out how to post it on the page!). I'm actually getting some painting done today and moving the Erebor Dwarves along a bit.  Also working on the Allan Quatermain figure from West Wind's Empire of the Dead.  The light is still really bad this afternoon, though.

Just ordered some Perry Miniatures for a whole new army today.  Oh dear!

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Definite Article

Mrs Legatus, being a fascist, enjoys the Daily Mail but the one piece I read in there regularly is the Saturday Weekend supplement's last page which has a feature called The Definite Article.  In this a number of (usually second or third rank) celebrities are asked the same set of questions about their life and interests.  I recently had to do this as part of a team building exercise (during which they found that, not surprisingly, the Legatus is not a team person).  I had to spin it for work purposes, of course, but I thought I could use a slightly more honest version here rather than posting about the number of figures I haven't painted again due to the terrible light.  The questions are straight from the Daily Mail's piece.

The prized possession you value above all others...

Well, the Legatus owns a lot of stuff but probably the most irreplaceable thing would be my computer back up hard drive which contains all my photos, writings, and other stuff.  I have a back up of the back up and another back up of that! 

The biggest regret you wish you could amend...

That I didn't continue with rowing at school.  I was actually better, initially, than my classmate who stuck with it and competed in a winning Boat Race squad, bonked the first girl to take part in the Boat Race and won a silver medal in the 1984 Olympics.  I was just too lazy and too interested in spending time with my first girlfriend to waste Saturdays on the freezing Thames...

The way you would spend your fantasy 24 hours with no travel restrictions...

The Seven Sisters and Cuckmere Haven, East Sussex

I would wake up in Vancouver, in S's apartment from which you have a fantastic view of Stanley Park, the water and mountains.  I would have a huge cooked breakfast at Eegon's cafe in Cowes before walking up Seaford Head to Cuckmere Haven in Sussex, which is still my favourite walk in the world.  Lunch would be in the open air rooftop restaurant of the Danieli in Venice with my old friend Princess I.  Bresaola, penne all'Arrabbiata and filleto di manzo washed down with La Scolca Gavi di Gavi and Giacomo Conterno Barolo Monfortino.  In the afternoon I'd wander around the Louvre and the Musée d'Orsay with an old girlfriend, SA, who really appreciated French art and was a regular model for me, (in a Degas sort of way).  Afternoon tea would be taken in The Empress Hotel in Victoria, Vancouver Island, followed by a stroll around the forum in Rome.  Before dinner I'd have a nice splash around in the vast bath of the old Richard Wagner suite of the Hotel Baur au Lac in Zurich with S, Princess I and SA (none of them ever met each other but I'm sure they'd rub along very nicely, so to speak) accompanied by lots of Laurent Perrier Rosé Brut.  Time for a quick Martini in the Blu Bar of the Shangri-La hotel in Singapore which would be followed by dinner in the Occidental Grill of the Willard InterContinental in Washington DC.  A restorative walk through the centre of Vienna would lead to settling down for the night in the Metropole Hotel in Hanoi with a nice glass of  Armagnac, probably the Castarède Vintage 1979.  I really like nice hotels!

The temptation you wish you could resist...

Mr Francis Ford Coppola's excellent Rubicon

I was going to say women.  Or pork pie.  Or books.  Or starting new wargames periods. But really it's wine.  I drink far too much of it.

The book that holds an everlasting resonance...

I'm not a very literary sort of person.   I rarely re-read books.  So, even though I've mentioned it before, it's The War Game.

The priority activity if you were the invisible man for the day...

The Legatus prepares to go invisible

All the usual thoughts come to mind regarding places where attractive young ladies congregate to change clothes (the Dutch women's hockey team changing room, perhaps) but it would be fascinating to float around the White House and see if they are all as clever as depicted in the West Wing or discover, as I suspect, that the free world is being run by a bunch of people with no idea about what they are doing.

The pet hate that makes your hackles rise...

There are many, many things that do this, as regular readers will know, but day to day I probably get most worked up by slow people.  People who drive too slowly, walk too slowly and think too slowly. Currently my most hated manifestation of this is people who order poncey coffees at Sainsbury's cafe in Cobham, where I have breakfast on Sunday mornings, as I look forward to a whole day without the Old Bat.  It takes ages for the staff to make these tragic drinks when they should be taking my order for a big breakfast with an extra sausage and an extra egg.  Grr!  Get a bloomin' move on! You're wasting my life!

The film you can watch time and time again...

There are a few of these (honourable mentions to The Ipcress File, Zulu and How to Murder your Wife) but if I had to pick one it would probably be Raiders of the Lost Ark. Pulp heaven!

The person who has influenced you most...

Probably my Auntie Susan who is my mother's younger sister but is fifteen years younger than my mother and is closer to me in age.  She was a journalist, a purser on P&O cruise ships, worked at the BBC and Rothschilds and latterly has been a big wheel in the Australian arts. She was the first person to treat me like an adult and, when she was younger, as hot as hell (as Sir Michael Jagger found out very early in his musical career).  She's sixty-eight now and still a ball of fire.  Shame she lives in Australia, but I had dinner with her in London last month where she was outrageous as ever; saying things like "I've just had to accept that at 68 I'm not going to have sex any more!" in front of her very embarrassed son and his wife.  Splendid woman!

The figure from history for whom you’d most like to buy a pie and a pint… 

The fifty year old Flynn with his seventeen year old girlfriend Beverly Aadland

This was the hardest one to do and not just because I don't like pies (I assume they mean some sort of pastry topped cooked one you get in a pub (horrible) rather than a cold pork one (excellent) - also I don't go into pubs) but because I'm not a person who has one great historical hero, as some do.  I suspect I might have got on quite well with Errol Flynn.

 The piece of wisdom you would pass on to a child...

You only regret the things you don't do.  Never give up the opportunity for an experience!

 The unlikely interest that engages your curiosity...

Strictly's Ola Jordan...what is the strange appeal of this show for the Legatus?

I really love Strictly Come Dancing and even watch all the daily It Takes Two shows despite knowing that dancing is a terribly unmasculine thing to do that should only be undertaken if really drunk or if pursuing an otherwise unobtainable woman.

The treasured item you lost and wish you could have again...

A pair of Ray-Bans given to me as a present by a very, very famous supermodel.  They fell into the sea while I was climbing from a yacht into a dinghy while moored outside Brigitte Bardot's house in the Baie des Canebiers in St Tropez. As you do.  It was probably all the constantly yapping dogs she keeps there that put me off my stride.

The unending quest that drives you on...

To paint one single model soldier that I am happy with.  Nowhere near yet.

The poem that touches your soul... 

Poems are for girls, although, as I found at college, it is sometimes necessary to fake an interest in poetry to attract a certain type of girl (rather like dancing).  If I had to pick one it would be Keats' Ode to a Nightingale which is packed with evocatively visual imagery such as the lines "Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways" and "Charm'd magic casements, opening on the foam Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn."

The misapprehension about yourself you wish you could erase...

V cooking me dinner.  My friend was not amused!

That I'll steal your girlfriend.  My best friend got very cross some years ago because he thought I stole the object of his affections but as he hadn't actually asked her out yet I thought she was still fair game.  He should have moved faster!  I haven't really stolen anyone's girlfriend for more than thirty years.  I may have borrowed a few since then, however.

The event that altered the course of your life and character...

Discovering as a teenager that girls actually enjoyed and wanted sex as much as men, despite what British sixties and seventies comedies intimated. I have been very happy to oblige them ever since...

The crime you would commit knowing you could get away with it...

I would steal this painting of Marie-Louise O'Murphy by Françoise Boucher from the Alte Pinakothek in Munich.  She was the mistress of Boucher himself, a lover of Casanova, the mistress of Louis XV and all before she was sixteen years old. There are several versions of this picture and the Legatus was lucky enough to see this version, the principal one, as well as another similar version, in an exhibition in Berlin a few years ago. I had this image as my mouse mat for many years!  

The song that means most to you...

I very rarely listen to song lyrics.  In fact I think they often spoil a good tune so it won't be anything where the sentiment in the words has deep meaning (I don't do deep very often, anyway).  But for its ability to conjure up memories, especially of scent, touch and a particular view (see the beginning of my fantasy 24 hours above) it would have to be Diana Krall's version of Dancing in the Dark, featuring the London Symphony Orchestra at the slinkiest they have ever been.

The happiest moment you will cherish forever...

No tarmac in the days of Goldfinger

It's a strange one this, perhaps.  The Legatus is rarely happy as he is mostly grumpy but in 1994 I was sat in the back of my father in law's Bentley Continental S2 Flying Spur on the way to compete in the first British Classic Car Rally in St Moritz (we came third).  I was listening to the soundtrack to Goldfinger on my Sony Walkman and I looked out the window just as Alpine Drive was playing and we were going past the Hotel Belvedere on the Furka Pass which was the location of the scene in the film which was accompanied by...Alpine Drive on the soundtrack. Up until this point I had no idea where the location in the film was until I saw it out the car window and the very same music was playing!  Spooky!  This was the most delightful coincidence and made my day.  I had to have a Vodka Martini when I got to the Palace Hotel to celebrate such a perfect moment!

The saddest time that shook your world...

I tend not to get emotional and certainly don't wallow in bad news (unlike those dreadful people you get on The Miniatures Page sometimes) but I did get upset when one of my girlfriends dumped me for an ugly South African just because he had a Porsche (only a 924, as well).  What a bitch!   As my very confident BBC producer friend Moss once said, when his attractive girlfriend left him at Cambridge:  "It knocked my confidence for a whole three days!"

The unfulfilled ambition that continues to haunt you...

PS Sudan

To sail up the Nile on a paddle steamer like in Death on the Nile.  Actually, I had it all planned a few years ago.  I was going on the PS Sudan with a former PA of mine on the ship they used for the David Suchet Poirot version.  But then Egypt disintegrated.  One day.

The philosophy that underpins your life...

Life is too short to deny yourself anything...

The order of service at your funeral...

Nothing pretentious. Twenty girls from the Royal Ballet School in gauzy shifts throwing rose petals onto the ground in front of sixty lady rowers dragging a replica viking ship along the ground before it is buried in a large mound overlooking the sea (probably somewhere on the downs on the Isle of Wight).  At one point I wanted to be on a viking ship on fire floating out to sea but now I've decided I would rather be archaeology. The Berlin Philharmoniker would play Siegfried's Funeral Music from Wagner's Götterdämmerung.  Live of course.

The way you want to be remembered…

I'm glad he's gone, he stole my girlfriend...

Friday, January 10, 2014

Mr first figure of 2014 and glug!

The light has been just awful lately, as we suffer almost constant inundation, so although I finished this Empire of the Dead Irene Adler figure a few days ago it has been too dark to photograph her.  This is my second EotD figure and she was, like Captain Nemo, lovely to paint.  I might try to finish my IHMN policemen next but they will need good light to work on, given the need for some quite subtle shading.  I have given up on the Erebor dwarves for a bit as I cannot see detail on the black undercoat.  I bunged off an order to North Star this week for the sample pack of their new Biblical range Sea People.  As there was quite a high minimum postage cost I bought the Brick Lane Collective for IHMN too.  Given North Star's leisurely service they won't be with me for several weeks, I suspect, in contrast to some figures I ordered from Australia (more about which shortly) recently which arrived in about five days. 

No, it's not the river it's the A320

We had to go off to my parents in law today as they live on the Thames and the water was not only rapidly approaching the back of the house from the river, it was coming up from the land side from the flooded main road, the A 320.  I think they have about nine inches leeway at present.  We're hoping the water goes down soon but it's not due to subside for at least 36 hours.

The water gets close to my parents in law's garage

The big job today was to get the Bentley raised up so that the water can't get to it.  So we spent a lot of time constructing ramps, cutting blocks and jacking it up six or seven inches or so.  Hopefully this should be enough!

Guy tries to locate the swimming pool.  The Thames is visible on the right.  And the left.  And in the centre.

I'm glad we live on a hill but even we got cut off for a morning this week when the main road flooded right across and the police closed it.  We have only had a bit of rain today but I can't remember the last time we had such sustained rainfall and high winds for so long.  It's getting on for three weeks now.  

Finally, continuing with the watery theme, I was wandering through Mayfair about twenty years ago and I saw this brilliant WC and washbasin in a posh bathroom shop.  This was in the days before digital cameras, let alone camera phones so I couldn't record them in all their tasteless loveliness but I often thought of them (strangely).  It is my birthday tomorrow (the anniversary of the invasion of Zululand in 1879) and I jokingly told my wife I wanted the"girly loo" for the cloakroom downstairs.   Now the Old Bat doesn't have many good qualities but tenacity is one she has in bucket loads.  So she proudly announced that she had eventually located a shop that sold the "girly loo" and, amazingly, it was located here in Oxshott, less than half a mile from the house.  Now, of course, if you want to sell tasteless bathroom furniture then a village largely populated by Premier League footballers, golf and tennis champions, Russian Oligarchs and Americans is ideal.

So, the Old Bat actually went into West One Bathrooms and enquired about the girly loo.  "Yes, madam we can get one for you.  Do you want a white, a black or a gold seat?  No, you have to put in your own concealed cistern.  No, you have to buy all the plumbing separately.  The washbasin doesn't come with taps, either."  So, the cost for the piece without plumbing including VAT is - £10,000.  Each.  It could have been worse.  The bath my wife wanted was £20,000. 

Now I've seen pieces of so called art in some of the world's trendier galleries (the Vancouver Art Gallery springs to mind) which aren't a patch on this bath.  However,  to be worth the money you would really need someone appropriate to set it off.  Not very many famous people share my birthday but I'd be very happy to watch Countdown's Rachel Riley, who does, recline elegantly in it.

Rachel: We enjoyed seeing her get fitter by the week in Strictly Come Dancing last year

Saturday, January 04, 2014

2013 Wargaming Highlights

Yes, it's all got to go back in the loft.  No wonder I can never get at my wargames scenery!

Yes, it's the inevitable wargames review of the year although having spent ten hours packing away Christmas today my review will be rather cursory (for me, anyway).

Wargames played

My force is at the bottom left

Well, I did better than last year and actually played three games!  I can at least claim to be a wargamer this year!  Two were big battles and one more a skirmish game.  First off, I took part in a special Wars of the Roses game at Guildford to mark the anniversary of the hall where the club meets in an open day environment.  It was, perhaps, surprising to hear such positive comments and interest in wargaming from the public.  

My Warlord Chinese bravely advance into withering machine gun fire

Secondly, Alastair gave me an enjoyable Back of Beyond game using the Triumph and Tragedy rules.  I pitched my warlord Chinese against his Bolsheviks.  I think I am more a skirmish wargamer than a big battalions person.

The Legatus is a blur of confident motion but all to no avail when up against three frighteningly clever small boys.

That said, I enjoyed playing on the excellent scenery and with the massive legions of Big Red Bat's Thapsus game at Colours at Newbury.  This is the first time I have played a game at a show so was doubly exciting.  With his beautiful armies, period focus and lovely scenery Big Red Bat is the wargamer I would like to be but never will be!

Figure painting 2013

My worst total since records began, as the Met Office would say.  Alright, I have only been counting since 2007, when I managed 312 figures.  This year it was a disappointing 82.  The reasons for this include a total of over two months out of the country and lots of lost time at the weekends relating to taxiing the children around or helping them with revision for big exams (well, not Charlotte as I have no idea about the stuff she studies).  Basically, from May until August I didn't finish anything at all. 

The most figures of one type I painted were for my Darkest Africa project which accounted for about one third of the figures I painted.

Main categories painted:

Darkest Africa 27
Lord of the Rings 13
Steampunk 10 
Back of Beyond 9 
Argonauts 7

I painted a lot of one off figures this year in more periods than last year. I find that I am enjoying painting individual figures in more detail rather than units. 

Figure painting for 2014

Despite the above, I have a lot of units I started in 2013 which are part painted so I would like to get some of them finished next year.  Key targets at present are the Orinnoco Miniatures British Legion, Erebor warriors from The Hobbit, Warlord WW2 Japanese (especially as the US Marines are now out) and some more steampunk figures,  I'd like to finish at least one faction for In Her Majesty's Name in the next month or so.

Best Figures

I'm never satisfied with the figures I paint but I was pleased with a few figures that went better than I hoped this year.

Figure Acquisition 2013

Just because I'm not painting doesn't mean that I am not buying more figures.  The biggest problem for me has been kickstarter type offerings; which is exactly the opposite of what I should be doing given as you end up with a massive amount of figures arriving all in one go.  This year I bought into: In Her Majesty's Name, Ronin, Mars Attacks, Empire of the Dead, Wargods of Olympus, Sikh Wars and the War and Empire 15mm ancients.  Fortunately, four of these haven't arrived yet! Plus, I bought some of Warlord's excellent new Republican Romans, a lot of Aventine second century Romans and more Foundry Greek legends figures, Orinoco Miniatures Latin American wars of liberation figures and so many more I can't even remember them.  

Possible inspiration for 2014

The Musketeers

Black Sails

I am hopeless for any new vaguely military TV show that comes out and gets me thinking about new armies.  The two flashing warning lights for 2014 are for two series which both look pretty dreadful but I will watch them anyway.  The first is the BBC's The Musketeers. Somewhere I have the Gloire rules for this period but no figures.  The second is Black Sails, the new pirate series which appears to be Spartacus at sea complete with lesbian tavern owner. What's not to like? Apparently, it has already had a second season commissioned despite it not having started yet.

 Both, I suspect will be dire.  At least I have a lot of pirates!  Both look very historically accurate.  Not.

Figures acquisition in 2014

Well really I shouldn't buy anything and am not planning any new periods except I am really tempted by North Star's new Biblical Range.  Oh dear.  I have decided to get rid of another period as I am never going to manage it and that is the Crimean War.  I have a box of Warlord figures and some books to put on eBay.  I prefer to do Indian Mutiny from this period, I think.  I am desperately short of space!

Rules acquisition 2012

I suppose the big one is In Her Majesty's Name (although I cannot for the life of me find my copy anywhere) for which I am buying not only figures but also some scenic items too.  I really hope to have a game of it this year.   I also bought Ronin and A World Aflame.  Needless to say I haven't played any of them yet.  I also bought some supplements for rules I already have and the Zulu War one for Black Powder is exceptionally good.


I was quite pleased by the way my Renedra plastic barn turned out.  I also, for no reason I can fathom, bought the Dutch House North Star had as a limited edition.  My plan to paint more of my resin scenery mountain came to nothing even though I have a box of various Darkest Africa stuff by Grand Manner prepared for painting perched on top of my file boxes of old Playboy magazines.

One thing I did get was a whole load of 2' x 2' polystyrene terrain boards from Mike of Black Hat Miniatures.  This gives me things like boards with a beach, streams etc.  What I really want to do is modify them a bit but I'm not sure I have the ability!  I also bought the 4Ground Victorian police station and started work on it but I have been put off by the fact that a key bit is missing so haven't done any more since I first started it.

My main project has been attempting to paint a Roman Galley.  This was supposed to be for Big Red Bat's Thapsus game but I just didn't have time to finish it.  I think I am really put off by all the rigging and oars I have to do next as the painting of the hull is essentially finished.  This is a pretty stupid hobby to have if you have absolutely no modelling or construction skills.  I am very envious of all the people making scenic boards and such like.  I can't do this sort of work at all.  I don't have tools and wouldn't know how to use them anyway.  How do people learn to cut wood and make reinforcing battens and such like?  It's all a mystery to me.  It's probably something to do with my father's attitude that you always got a man in to do stuff around the house and that DIY is not something gentlemen should do!  

Big things of 2013

Victorian steampunk is the biggest new thing for me this year and seems very popular considering that it really needs lots of urban scenery.  I've spent a small fortune on various steampunky vehicles without really knowing what I am going to use them for. 

Looking forward, the really intriguing thing will be how I get on with the War & Empire 15mm ancients.  I did paint a few Xyston Greeks a few years ago but my problem with 15mmm is I paint them as if they were 28mm figures so don't really gain on time.  Am I going to base them individually? So far that's what I have done with the few 15mm figures I had.  Hmm.

The Blogs

I'm not updating most of them but that's because I'm not painting much.  I do intend to do some more on my Argonautika blog this year.  It also has the title panel I am most pleased with, too.

The most popular post on this blog was the one I did on the colour of Victorian bricks which had over a thousand views since it was posted at the end of September.  the second most popular post was the one I did on In Her Majesty's Name with 920 views, followed by my review of Ray Harryhausen's films with 856.  However, one post on my girly blog is getting 7000 visits a week so that isn't that impressive in comparison.


I like the new Battlegames/Miniature Wargames mash up and Wargames Soldiers and Strategy goes from strength to strength.  I'm getting a bit sick of ludicrously overpopulated tank battles in Wargames Illustrated though. As for White Dwarf, I've finally given up on it, due to its lack of Hobbit content despite, disgracefully, still featuring the name on every cover.


A late but very welcome Christmas present was Henry Hyde's The Wargamer's Compendium.  I read the first few pages of it where he describes the proto-wargaming influences he had as a child and they were almost identical to mine.  I also started on Airfix models with my father. Mr Hyde's father was a watercolourist and draughtsman and mine was an architect.  His father had been in the Fleet Air Arm in WW2 and my father had been in the Eighth Army.  Hyde's father also used to shoot Airfix figures with his old air rifle in the garden and my father and I did the same with his old Lincoln Jeffries .177. Hyde's father died when he was ten and mine died when I was thirteen.  Spooky!  Excellent book so far and reads rather like Charles Grant.

Most annoying things...

Hobbit coverage?  Ha ha!

The tragic lack of support from Games Workshop for their Hobbit range and its ludicrous pricing.   Not one article in a year apart from a few painting guides.  At least it means I have stopped buying White Dwarf at last.

My increasing annoyance at The Miniatures Page.  Although there is much that is good about it (although trying to identify the good bits is getting increasingly difficult) once something becomes annoying there is not much you can do.  The levels of annoyance just increase.  It was like a girlfriend I had once who despite having a superb figure, being a natural blonde, enjoying good food and wine and going like a bomb had a really annoying laugh.  I hadn't actually noticed it until my sister pointed it out (they didn't get on) and then I couldn't get it out of my mind. She had to go in the end.  I have to decide on renewing my membership at the end of this month and I'm not sure.

Anyway, the Legatus hopes everyone has a good 2014 and enjoys their painting and wargaming!