Sunday, January 21, 2018

A Great SYW Miniatures Collection - Fontenoy



The French Gardes Francaises and Suisses deploy between Fontenoy and Bois du Barry.
French cavalry backs up the infantry in the center.


From time to time I would like to post pictures of other people's collections of wargame figures that really stand out in my mind. So today, let's start with a look at the collection of UK wargamer Steve Langen, who has built up an incredible collection of War of the Austrian Succession (1740 - 1748) French and British armies. Nearly all of the figures are sculpted by the talented Richard Ansell in 1/56 Scale (approximately 30mm tall) and include Minden Miniatures and Crann Tara Miniatures and some Fife & Drum Miniatures artillery equipment.

Steve recently refought the Battle of Fontenoy (1745) and was kind enough to let me post pictures of his magnificent collection of miniatures and terrain pieces.

A description of the French battle line, stretching from the Redoubt d'Eu on the left, to the town of Fontenoy in the center, and on to the town of Antoing on the French right. The pictures are posted in order from the French left to the French right.

Aeriel view of the French deployment at Fontenoy stretching from the Redoubt d'Eu at the top of the picture to the left of the woods; the French Gardes brigade and cavalry defend the gap in the center; the town of Fontenoy on the middle right; and more French in redoubts between Fontenoy and Antoing.

The French army's left wing was a strong position with the Bois du Barry woods to its front with two redoubts on the left. French light infantry were deployed in the woods and well placed to pepper the flanks of the approaching British with musketry. If the British survived the passing of the woods, then they would run into the Redoubt d'Eu, which could enfilade their attack on the right flank.

The Bois du Barry woods anchors the left flank of the French battle line.
The Arquebusiers de Grassines, light troops, defend the woods.



The Redoubt d'Eu is placed strategically at the edge of the woods
and can provide enfilading fire on any attack that comes in the center.
The French center stretched between the Redbout d'Eu on its left and the town of Fontenoy on its right. French general Marshal Maurice de Saxe correctly reasoned that the most likely point of attack by the British and allies would be in the center. Accordingly, de Saxe placed his best troops: the brigade of French and Swiss Gardes and backed them up with the cream of the elite French Household and line cavalry.


To the right of the Redoubt d'Eu we see the deployment of the French Gardes brigade,
backed up by  the elite Maison du Roi cavalry and other French cavalry regiments


Closer view of the French center at Fontenoy

Anchoring the French right flank was the town of Fontenoy. De Saxe had fortified the perimeter of the town and stuffed it full of cannon and French infantry. 


French infantry defends the town of Fontenoy.

Finally, the French defences behind Fontenoy stretched to the River Scheldt and the town of Antoing. The open areas between Fontenoy and Antoing were defended by more redoubts. French artillery was posted on the other side of the river, where they could enfilade and attack in this sector the battlefield.


The leader of the British and Allies (Dutch, Hanoverians and Austrians), the Duke of Cumberland, decided to attack the French center with his British troops, while the Dutch troops would attack the Fontenoy-Antoing position. The Hanoverians were placed to add weight to the British attack and to possibly attack the salient in the French line - the town of Fontenoy.


The British Guards advance towards the French center.


The British attack moves towards its date with the French center.

The defense of the Redoubt d'Eu

The French Gardes Brigade


The second wave of British support the first line of British Guards.

I hope that you enjoy this tour of Steve's collection of figures and terrain. I think that you will agree with me that this is an exceptional collection of painted figures. I can truthfully say that this may well be the best looking collection of mid-18th Century armies and figures. It sets the bar high for everyone else. 

I find Steve's collection inspiring and it gives me some ideas about things that I could do with my own collection.


Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Return of Battlegames Perhaps?



I would like to draw your attention to a new project that Henry Hyde is initiating on Patreon that will create a sort of on-line wargaming content somewhat similar to his old Battlegames magazine. Individuals are invited to become "patrons of the arts" and support Henry's efforts with a payment of a monthly subscription that can be as low as $1.00 or as high as you want to go. 

Patreon is a form of on-line crowd funding, but rather than investing in a tangible product such as a boardgame or a new range of wargame miniatures, you are underwriting the artist's creation of content on a monthly basis. To be clear, this is not a financial investment where you will expect some sort of financial return on investment. You are providing funds, on a monthly basis at an amount of your choosing, to provide the artist with a monthly income of sorts so that he can spend part of his time doing his regular free-lance graphic design work and part of his time creating content for his patrons.

In return, patrons will have access to newly created content on blogs, 30 to 60 minute podcasts, videos in addition to other written articles and graphics pertaining to gaming or military history.

I know that I am doing a poor job of trying to explain the venture, so I invite you to click on the link below and read about it in Henry's own words.



But the most important thing about Patreon as a model is that, rather like the patrons of the arts of previous centuries, it creates a direct link between you, the consumer, and me, the creator. More than just a financial transaction, it creates a bond, a deeper level of interaction than is possible if you were just buying a magazine off a shelf or a picture off a wall. Your input, suggestions, feedback and requests will be crucial in creating my output, to build a body of work that is satisfying to both of us. Already, in the comments below the blog post where I floated the idea, potential patrons are helping to shape my ideas about what to create, how often and even at what size, such as the length of podcasts and so on. If you have a great idea, let me know and I'll do my best to make it so!

I have read Henry's prospectus on the campaign and am sufficiently interested and intrigued by the concept to "invest" a certain amount of money in Henry on a monthly basis. I won't say what level of funding I'm participating at, but I feel that I should put my money where my mouth is by signing on as a patron to this venture.

If you enjoyed the old Battlegames magazine and Miniature Wargames during Henry's tenure as editor of both publications, then I think that you will be interested in this venture. So click on the links above and take a look to see for yourself and then make your own decision on whether or not to become a patron.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

SYW Russian Project Update - Artillery


Minden Russian Artillery (L-R): 6-pd, 12pd, 12pd unicorn, and Shuvulov Howitzer.
Crew are available in "Loading" and "Firing " poses.
CLICK PIX to Enlarge


Over the weekend I completed another Russian musketeer battalion - Permski - and based that and four Russian artillery crew with cannons. The artillery sets had been painted quite awhile ago, but had yet to be based.

The artillery pictures in this post show the bases prior to the addition of tufts and static grass, so the models will look much better after tomorrow when I can add the greenery.

How I Base Miniatures
I use a "goop" of Red Devil Premixed Spackle Compound with brown paint, stirred together until the mixture looks like bad chocolate pudding. The goop is troweled around the feet of the crewmen and onto the base, then dipped into a box of fine railroad ballast material. I then shake of the excess grit and set the model aside so that it can dry. The goop is relatively dry within an hour or two, but I prefer to wait at least 12 hours to a day before going to the next step of the basing process.

Once the base is sufficiently dry (i.e. you can dry brush paint over the grit without any of the material falling off), I take a pot of Howard Hues Geo Hex Brown paint and with a large brush, stipple (a painting process  where the brush is pushed against the canvas rather than using a brush stroke) the paint over the grit in a random manner, and then set it aside for the next step. I don't comletely cover the base in the Geo Hex Brown, but rather, allow some of the natural color of the grit to show through. This is sort of a reverse Shade Color/Highlight Color wherein the background is a light color and the contrasting dark color is on the top.

Next I add tufts, clumps of grass, to the base - usually no more than four tufts per stand. I use regular white glue for the tufts and static grass. Once the tuft glue is set, then I brush on random blotches of white glue around the stand. The glue usually is brushed into  the depressions/low lying areas of the base, while the higher elevations are kept grass free. I then sprinkle static grass onto the wet glue and shake off the excess static grass. The glue usually sets within ten to fifteen minutes and then you are done with the basing.


The recently completed Permski regiment showing the finished bases.

Let's Get Back to the Artillery
The Minden/Fife & Drum Miniatures range of SYW figures currently has four Russian artillery pieces. These consist of field guns of 6 pounds and 12 pounds; and two different howitzers including the 12 pound Unicorn and the Shuvulov Howitzer.

The 6-pdr and 12-pdr field cannon, showing the loading and firing artillery crewmen poses.



Howitzers: Unicorn on the left and the Shubulov "Secret" Howitzer on the right.

I have a few more cannon left to  paint for my Russian Project and after that I will tackle the limbers and horse teams that provide transportation for the artillery pieces.

I am also considering painting some of the artillery crewmen as Artillery Fusiliers. I will simply take some of the crew poses that could hold muskets and then glue some spare Minden muskets that I have. Or they could depict an Observation Corps musketeer battalion.


That brings you up to date on the Russian Project. So far we have 7 battalions of infantry and 9 squadrons of cavalry plus four artillery pieces. I am about half way through the Russian infantry, for my own needs.

I need to have 12-14 battalions of Russians for my Zorndorf game at this year's Seven Years War Association Convention in South Bend, Indiana on April 5th through the 7th.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Russian Grenadier Mitres


Russian grenadier mitre detail

We are working on adding Russian grenadiers, both Observation Corps and regular infantry, to the Minden Miniatures range of figures.

I thought that readers would like to look at some of the pictures of mitres that we have collected to help our sculptors.




Drawing from Osprey book on Russian infantry uniforms

Another Osprey illustration

Horse grenadier picture of unknown origin

Images from John Mollo's book on SYW uniforms.

Unknown source collected from Pinterest.


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Saturday, January 6, 2018

Russian Musketeers on Parade


Russian Zorndorf Project - Galitzin's division between the Galgen Grund and the Zabern Grund.
Click all pictures to enlarge the view.


We are knee-deep in ice and snow here in Hesse Seewald, so what better way to pass the gloom of Winter than to ramp up our Russian Zorndorf project in full gear. My target date for completion is the end of March 2018 so that I can host the Zorndorf game at this year's Seven Years War Association convention in South Bend, Indiana.

This year is the 260th anniversary of the Battle of Zorndorf, fought on August 25, 1758. Realistically, the battle between the Russians and Prussians was fought to a draw, but Frederick claimed victory based on his possession of the field after the Russians marched off to their baggage train. This undoubtedly gave inspiration to Napoleon to "lie like a bulletin" when he would report the results of battle wins and losses.

But that is a story for another day...

Russian camp at Quartschen.


Zorndorf Project Objectives
My plan is to build 16 battalions of Russian infantry, 5 regiments (24 figures each) of cavalry, 4 field artillery pieces with crew and limber teams, and 2 to 4 light regimental guns. The army will be divided into three infantry brigades: Galitzin, Saltykov and the Observation Corps commanded by Browne; and one cavalry brigade commanded by Demiku.

The infantry will include approximately 4 battalions of Observation Corps Musketeers and maybe one battalion of OC Grenadiers if the later figures are available to me. There will be at least 2 regular grenadier battalions added to 8 to 10 battalions of Russian Musketeers.

The cavalry contingent will feature regiments of 24 figures which I arbitrarily divide into two "squadrons" of 12 riders. These are not actual squadrons, but I treat them as such in my wargame armies.

The artillery component will include a variety of smooth bore field guns of 6-pds and 12-pds plus Shuvulov howitzers and light 12-pound unicorn howitzers. The regimental guns will include the Shuvulov howitzers and some 3-pounders.

Zorndorf Progress in 2017
My Russian army started gathering steam and mass during the second half of 2017 as I added both cavalry and musketeer infantry to the ranks.  The new cavalry forces included:

12 x cuirassiers
24 x dragoons
24 x horse grenadiers
24 x hussars
24 x Cossacks

I also added one battalion of my new Minden Russian Musketeers in Summer waistcoat and commander stands representing Galitzin and Saltykov. This brought my infantry contingent up to 4 musketeer battalions and 1 grenadier battalion in 2017.

Zorndorf Progress in 2018
We are but a few days into the new year and I have already finished painting a second battalion of the new Minden Russian Musketeers in Summer waistcoats.

Narva Regiment with GMB Designs flags and Minden Russian Musketeers.

Narva Regiment with all platoons deployed in line.

A New Basing System for the Russians
You may have noticed that I have gone to a different basing system for my SYW army in order to move the figures closer together, shoulder to shoulder, if you will. The battalions now have 32 figures on four stands compared to the old system of 30 figures on five stands. The two end stands have 9 figures each, with the drummer deployed out on the flank. The two center stands have 8 figures each.


The new basing system depicting the drummers on the flanks.
Note that the central core of figures on both types of stands line up.

The Narva Regiment marching in column.
I like the look of the outlier drummers on each side of the regiment when it is deployed into a column.


Narva (front) and Moscow (rear) Russian regiments.

I will do another post this week that goes into more detail on the new basing system for the Russian infantry.

Work in Progress
Yesterday saw me cleaning and assembling enough figures to paint two 32-figure Russian Musketeer battalions and four artillery batteries (2 x 12-pdrs and 2 x Shuvulov Secret Howitzers) including limbers. I hope to have all of these painted and based by the end of this month (January 2018).

Russian musketeers (right) and artillery (left) are ready to be primed grey.

Close up of two 32-figure battalions of Russian Musketeers.

Close up view of Russian artillery: two 12-pdrs (left) and two Shuvulov Howitzers (right).
Minden Russian artillery crews come in loading or firing poses.

I expect to have the two musketeer battalions done by the end of this month (January 2018), which would give me one Russian infantry brigade all in red Summer waistcoats and one infantry brigade wearing their Fall and Winter uniform coats of green. That would give me 8 of the 14-16 battalions that I will need for the Zorndorf game at the SYWA convention in March.

We have some Russian Observation Corps musketeers and grenadiers under commission with one of our sculptors, but it might be a bit iffy to expect them to be ready in time for the convention in March. This is due to the lead time needed to not only sculpt the figures, but also to make master and production moulds, and then ship them to Fife & Drum Miniatures Central to get them bagged and ready to sell (or in my case, to get them painted). However, I expect to be able to get the OC figures ready and painted in time for either Historicon or a refight of the game in August 2018.

There are also more Russian musketeers and grenadiers both in Summer and Fall/Winter kit that are on the work bench, so there should be a significant expansion of the SYW Russian range in 2018.


Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 in Review (Short Version)


Der Alte Fritz gets down to the business of defeating the Dervish.


Well, 2017 is just about gone and we are heading into a new year tomorrow. It seems like a good time to summarize some of the highlights of the year for me and for this blog. I might do a longer version, with links to past posts, sometime in January 2018.

Here are some of the highlights of my 2017 year, in no particular order of importance:


1.  Ten Year Anniversary of this blog
It is hard to believe, but I have been going at this blogging thing for ten years now. It continues to be as much fun now as it was when I made my first post in 2007.

2. I Played in 17 Wargames in 2017
Now that I am retired, I have a lot more free time for wargaming. I played 8 solo games and 9 group games during the year.

3. Started the Fife & Drum Minis Forum
I carried the idea of blogging over to the world of forums on February 27, 2017 as I created the fifeanddrumminis.proboards.com , initially to promote my Fife & Drum AWI and Minden SYW figure ranges. It quickly morphed into something more widespread that covers the 18th Century, both from an historical information standpoint and from a wargamers' standpoint.

4. My Visit to the United Kingdom
In June 2017, I travelled to England to visit my casting company, Griffin Moulds Ltd and also made an appearance at the Ex-AMG gathering in Kenilworth. It was great to meet a number of people in person, whom I have only known through the blogosphere. My daughter Lelia later met me in London for her very first visit to Europe. What a time we had!

5. Return of the Teddy Bear Wars

My daughter and I resumed our famous Teddy Bear Wars in December 2017. It was our first game since 2011. The Battle of the Bears was won by Lelia (AKA Lady Emma Cuddleston-Smythe) so I am still winless in these tabletop tilts. Teddy Bear game reports are always get the highest number of page views of all of my blog posts.

6. South Carolina 1780 Campaign Begins
I started a solo AWI campaign set in South Carolina in the year 1780. The twelve turn campaign currently rests on Turn Ten, but we will complete the campaign early in 2018. Along the way, I have been working on my own set of campaign rules that I might publish in the future.

7.  Attended the Annual Seven Years War Association Convention
I have been attending this convention nearly continuously since about 1986 and the same old faces keep returning, albeit with balding pates and silver grey hair. I ran two Cowpens games on Friday and then a larger set pierce AWI game on Saturday.

8. Started Building My SYW Russian Army
I think that it was in August that I got the bee in my bonnet to finally build the SYW Russian army that I had been contemplating for ages. I decided to target things towards running a Zorndorf game at the 2018 SYW Association Convention in March 2018.

9. Sculpted My First Wargame Figures
I decided to try my hand at sculpting wargame figures, so starting with the basic dollies and torsos and head that Richard Ansell made, I sculpted a Russian Musketeer soldier and drummer, an NCO and an officer so that I could use them in my own collection of 28mm Russians. I also made some South Carolina Continentals and 11 AWI mounted militia figures.

10. Some Personal Events in Life
My sister, Janet Akers, died in November 2017 at the age of 69 from cancer. That was hard to take. On a brighter note, my daughter Lelia went away to college prep school and is enjoying the adventures of living by oneself out of the nest of Mom and Dad. On one of my visits to see Lelia in Carbondale, IL, I visited nearby Fort Donelson ACW battlefield site. Finally, I declared war on clutter as I rented a 20-foot long dumpster and filled it up with the clutter of living in the same house for approximately ten years.







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George Rust - RIP

George Rust - we will miss you

Today I received the sad news that George Rust passed away on December 30, 2017. George was a member of the Seven Years War Association and may well have been one of its founding members. My recollection is that George had diabetes so his death may have been related to that, but I'm not sure.

I played quite a few wargames with George as he attended most of the mega-games that I staged such as Leuthen and Rossbach. He was always a gentleman, never argued about rules or anything else, and he was a joy to game with.

George (standing in the center) commanding some Prussians in one of our games in Brown Deer, WI.


George was a kind and gentle soul and he will be missed at next year's convention in March 2018.

I will post additional news as it becomes available.