Wednesday, August 15, 2018

New Minden Russians Have Arrived

Minden Russian Observation Corps Grenadiers in Summer waistcoats.
Click picture to enlarge.

Griffin Moulds has sent my casting order for the 16 new SYW Russian line infantry that have been sculpted by Richard Ansell. They are scheduled to arrive at schloss Seewald on Friday August 16th.

The Russian Observation Corps musketeers and grenadiers, and Russian artillery crews and cannon are also available and are currently in stock. So I feel that Minden Miniatures has the Russian infantry and artillery well covered with selections.

The new product codes will be posted on the Fife & Drum Miniatures web store by August 20th of next week. The Observation Corps and Artillery crew figures are already in the web store.

You can order your Russians through the Fife & Drum web store: Fife & Drum web store

Introductory Discounts
We are offering the new Russian figures at an introductory discounted price that knocks off $2.00 from the 8 packs, and $1.00 from the new 4 pack command sets. Artillery crew and mounted officer prices are not discounted. This works out to a discount of approximately 17%!

Discounted prices:  Packs of 8 figures are priced at $16.00 and 4 figure command and artillery packs are $8.00;

Non-discounted prices: mounted officers are $6.00

Russian Line Musketeers
MR-001  Russian Musketeer Command (4 figures)
MR-002  Russian Musketeers in regulation dress (8 figures)
MR-003  Russian Musketeer Standard Bearer Pack (2 figures)
MR-004  Russian Musketeer Command, Summer dress (4 figures)
MR-005  Russian Musketeers, Summer Waistcoats (8 figures)

MR-006  Russian Mounted Colonel with horse

Russian Line Grenadiers
MR-007  Russian Grenadier Command, regulation dress (4 figures)
MR-008  Russian Grenadiers, regulation dress (8 figures)
MR-009  Russian Grenadier Command, Summer waistcoats (4 figures)
MR-010  Russian Grenadiers, Summer waistcoats (8 figures)

Russian Artillery Crews
MR-011  Russian artillery crew, loading (4 figures)
MR-012  Russian artillery crew, firing (4 figures)

Observation Corps (Summer waistcoats only)

Minden Russian Observation Corps Musketeers in Summer waistcoats.
Click on picture to enlarge.

MR-013  Russian Observation Corps Command, Summer waistcoats (4 figures)
MR-014  Russian Observation Corps Musketeers, Summer waistcoats (8 figures)
MR-015  Russian Observation Corps Grenadier Command, Summer waistcoats (4 figures)
MR-016  Russian Observation Corps Grenadiers, Summer waistcoats (8 figures)

Future additions to the Minden range will include French Cavalrie in Bearskin hats; French Grenadiers in Bearskin hats; Austrian Horse Grenadiers, a French Kettle Drummer, and Marshal de Broglie and Lt. General Chevert French personality figures.

After these figures are completed, then Richard will start working on AWI British Highlander troops and some AWI personalities.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Fife & Drum Miniatures Video and Terrain Tutorial

Aerial view of the battlefield, with British in the lower right corner
and Americans on the ridge in the center.

I have decided that it is time to enter the world of videos on my blog, and because the videos are usually too large for Blogger's limit of file size, I will be posting this and future videos directly onto You Tube and then provide a link on this blog going back to the You Tube URL

You Tube Video - Hobkirk's Hill

Several days ago I set up the terrain for a new AWI game on my table. It is loosely based on the Battle of Hobkirk's Hill, or "Second Camden" as I like to call it. I think that it might well be one of the best looking game tables that I have ever set, so I wanted to mark it by doing a video.

Buildings, Roads, Trees and Fences
Since Camden is located in the back country of South Carolina, I decided that only log cabins would be appropriate buildings to use. All of the buildings shown in the pictures are from the company called "Grand Manner", located in the UK. Herb Gundt painted and based all of the buildings. When at all possible, I like to locate little farms or towns in the corners of the table, where they are out of the way of the action in the middle of the table. Here I can place civilians or make little vignettes or dioramas that add some charm and interest to the table top.

All of the snake rail fences and a few stone walls were made by Herb Gundt.

The trees are a mixture of ones made by Herb, using driftwood trunks and Woodlands Scenics large foliage pieces. He also made some trees using the rubberized horse hair method. I also have a goodly number of K&M trees, from the UK, and while these look very different from Herb's trees, I really like the way the two styles of trees work together and create a look of variety.

The roads are all made by Novus and are made of a rubber-like material that folds and bends nicely with elevation changes. Note to self: buy more Novus roads.

Farmer Gill and Family

The little hamlet of Log Town.
Americans deploy on Hobkirk's Hill
Scenic Background - a Herbaceus Border Perhaps?
I have about three or four bags of model railroad lichen, most of which is a rather garish and bright green color, as well as some dark green, and a light tan-ish color that I can't even describe. However, put them all together and they look pretty good because of the variety of greens working together.

Bright green lichen actually looks good when mixed in with other vegitation colors.

I placed some of my largest trees around the perimeter of the game table so that I can take some ground level photographs and not have a background of bookshelves, wall pictures, painting table, etc. Then I fill in the gaps between the trees with the railroad lichen which really gives the area a pop of color. I also like to put some large trees at the back end of the table because it plays some tricks to the eyes with perspective.  

My game mat doesn't quite fill up the whole surface of my game table, so I leave the plastic rollup tub attached to the end of the mat and use it as support for the wall of lichen that I build up to obstruct the view. I refer to the area behind the tube as my backstage area. I can place rules sheets, pencils, rulers etc here out of sight.

"Backstage" area is hidden by the wall of trees and lichen.
I also make sure to leave a "triangle" of open table in each of the four corners - I place my dice rolling trays in each corner, out of sight.

Corner dice trays are hidden out of sight by the rocks and trees.
More rocks put to good use on the table surface. Note the smaller rocks on the left that I have
randomly scattered across the table in order to break up the golf course look of the bare mat.

Natural Materials - straight from the back yard
Your back yard is a veritable treasure trove of terrain material to use on your table top. I gather up pebbles to scatter across my table mat as these help to break up the golf course effect of an undecorated mat. Larger rocks are placed around the perimeter and in the wooded areas that create mini Devil's Den rock formations. Dead leaves are one of my favorite finds. I crush the leaves or finely chop them into little bits and scatter them across the forest floor of the woods. A few broken twigs are also scattered around the woodsy areas to simulate fallen trees that are now dead.

Devil's Den is made from rocks that I found while walking the dog. T
he figures provide some perspective on the size of the miniatures relative to the rocks.
You can also see some of the chopped up dead leaves on the forest floor behind the rocks. 

In conclusion, the key to a realistic looking tabletop is lots of variety in materials. All that one needs is a bit of an artist's eye to put the whole picture together. You don't need to commission scratch-built buildings because there are plenty of sources for good looking buildings made of cast resin or laser cut MDF wood.

I will be fighting the Battle of Hobkirk's Hill in the next week or two and will post pictures of the battle on this blog. So stay tuned.

Your comments are always welcomed. Just click on the word Comments at the end of this article and fire away.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

New Russian Greens - Musketeers and Grenadiers

Russian officer on horse

I received pictures of the Russian musketeers and grenadiers, both in waistcoats and in uniform coats, that Richard Ansell has just completed. The greens are at Griffin Moulds now so the process of turning the greens into production castings is well underway.

These are "line" musketeers and grenadiers, which is to say that they are not Observation Corps figures. So all figures are in gaitors. We offer the choice of Russians wearing the Summer kit of a sleeved waistcoat as well as the traditional green uniform coat.

1) Russian Musketeers in uniform coats:

Russian Musketeers in Uniform Coats

2) Russian Grenadiers in uniform coats 

Russian Grenadiers in uniform coats

3) Russian musketeers and grenadiers in red waistcoats:

Russian Musketeers and Grenadiers in waistcoats - Summer kit
NOTE: it is likely that the Russian officers, ensigns and drummers wore their uniform green coats at all time, so we did not make officers, ensigns and drummers in waistcoats (except for having a musketeer drummer in waistcoat).

4) Russian mounted Colonel:

So this means that once these new figures are cast that Minden Miniatures will provide a rather extensive range of Russian infantry figures, both in Summer kit and in regular uniform kit, that covers the line musketeers and grenadiers and the Observation Corps musketeers and grenadiers. In addition, we have Russian artillery crews both in loading and firing poses.

Russian cavalry remains on the to do list, however, the next batch of figures that Richard is working on include French heavy cavalry in bearskin hats, French foot grenadiers in bearskins, Austrian horse grenadiers in bearskins (do you catch the "bearskin" theme here?).

Finally, French personality figures will arrive with Marshal de Broglie and Lt. General Chevert.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

My Wargame Room Gets an Update

View as you walk into the game room.

Click on all pictures to enlarge.

Earlier this year I reported on the massive changes that I made to my wargaming room, which entailed repainting the walls and trim, reducing the size of my game table and enhancing my reading area.

Over the past couple of weeks I have added a number of artifacts and display items throughout the room and it is starting to take on a museum quality to it. Now I have the space to display my re-enacting unforms and a few other military trinkets, scattered around the room.

I think that Edward Woodward ("Callan") would feel right at home in my game room. I'm always on the lookout for more military artifacts to display in the wargame room, perhaps changing out reproductions with the real thing (mostly in the ACW era).

Edward Woodward (Callan) wargamed in style.

Virtual Tour of the Wargame Room

So let me take you on a virtual tour of my wargame room. As you walk into the room and look to your left (South Wall), you can see some of the storage drawers for my terrain and building pieces. Hanging from the ceiling are the hot air balloons of the Hesse Seewaldt Air Force. A uniform of the French regiment Bearn from the SYW can be seen hanging on the back wall. To the right of the Bearn uniform are more shelves, which hold most of my Minden Miniatures armies.

South view to your left as you walk into the room
After you have entered the room, if you look behind you towards the East Wall and the entry way, you will see a Confederate officer's uniform from my reenacting days. Both the French and the Confederate uniforms had been stored away for over ten years, so I thought that it would be nice to put them on display in the newly refurbished wargame room.

The wood shelves on the left hold some books and trinkets that I've collected over the years, including a bakelite 1945 RCA radio. I also found an old 1930s Detroit radio that is displayed on the shelves in the reading area. The wicker fishing creel seen below belonged to my late father, who was an avid fly fisherman (for trout and salmon). I never developed much of an interest in fishing though.

One of my favorite items in the room is a two-piece copy of a map of Prussia circa the Seven Years War that Bill Protz kindly printed off for me. The map conveniently includes roads so this makes for a perfect campaign map, should I do one for the SYW.

Looking at the east wall behind you
A view of the game table, looking east.
Next let's look at the South Wall

Close up view of the French Bearn Regiment uniform of the SYW.
You can also see elements of the Hesse Seewald airforce hanging from the ceiling.

A close up view of the French Bearn uniform hangs on the South Wall. The Napoleon poster is one of my favorite pictures, as it was actually a Starbucks coffee advertisement that my wife found for me. The poster has an inspiring quote  (wink) from Napoleon:

Strong coffee, and plenty, awakens me.
It gives me a warmth, an unusual force.
A pain that is not without pleasure.

I have placed two cafeteria style tables (2.5ft by 6ft) together as a place to put my campaign map of South Carolina circa 1779. At the end is the area where I base my figures after they are painted. The television set is meant to show only DVDs, but I have not hooked it up yet.

More tables, folded and leaning against the wall, can be seen. I have 5 or 6 spare tables that I no longer use, having shortened my game table from 15ft to 12ft in length and by getting rid of the 2.5ft by 15ft. of tables that ran parallel to my main table.

Let us now turn our attention to the North wall.

After you have walked over to the South Wall to examine the French uniform more closely, you turn around and take in the view of the North Wall of the room. This is where my reading area is located. Along the walls are some reproduction ACW forage caps and helmet for the British 24th Warwickshire Regiment. We all know the fate of the Warwickshire lads at Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift. How could I pass up buying this helmet?

A view of the reading area and fireplace (fake) along the north wall.
The fireplace mantel is a piece of furniture that I purchased some 30-40 years ago and I have hauled it around with me for the various house moves that I have made over the years. It could be used as an actual fireplace surround, but there is no fireplace behind it. It does, however, make for a good focal point in the room. 

To the left of the fireplace you can just barely make out a 19th Century antique umbrella stand that now holds yard sticks that I use in my wargames. The book shelves largely hold various sets of wargame rules that I have collected over the years as well as a small part of my 54mm toy soldier collection. The majority of the toy soldiers are stored away for now because they take up too much space.

I keep a lot of my 18th Century uniform books on the shelf that is closest to the comfy chair and ottoman. I imagine that I will spend a lot of time there, listening to music and drawing up plans for the next batch of new figures in the Minden and Fife & Drum miniatures ranges.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

2nd South Carolina Regiment is Painted

2nd South Carolina Regiment 


Yesterday I completed the painting of the 2nd South Carolina regiment using the new Fife & Drum South Carolina figures. I decided that it was time to put paint to the figures and create the regiment.

The Second South Carolina in line.

Next in the painting queue will be the 1st South Carolina regiment which would give me a nice little brigade of South Carolina troops. Both regiments had the misfortune to have been captured at Charleston when General Lincoln surrendered to the British. Nevertheless, as long as I am going to be running South Carolina campaigns, I might as well have some SC regiments in my collection.

A little further down the road I would like to recreate the siege of Savannah or Stono Ferry.

Other News
Keep a watch on this blog for some exciting news about some new things going on with Minden Miniatures.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Dean West, RIP

Dean West explains the rules at Nashcon
(photo courtesy of Cory Ring)

I heard the very sad news yesterday that Dean West had passed away. Dean was one of the nicest person that I ever met and ranks in my top ten list of students of history. I would always learn something new about history every time I talked to him. 

Seven Years War Association Conventions
Dean was devoted to the Seven Years War Association and for quite awhile he organized the annual convention in South Bend and sought out game judges to run convention games. Dean was a master of herding cats as nearly every dealer and game judge had his own particular needs at the convention and somehow Dean came up trumps in attending to everyone's needs.

A Master of Terrain
Dean always had some the most beautiful looking terrain at the convention and he did it all without the fancy terrain boards, which seem to be the rage in this day and age. He did extensive research on the battle that he was going to host, right down to terrain elevations, etc. Dean used a simple outdoor carpet for each unique battle (i.e each battle had its own bespoke terrain mat) and permanently marked the streams and roads on the map. However, it was the terrascaping that really brought his game table to light. Dean downsized the building by one size, so if he was using 15mm figures, the buildings would be those made for 10mm figure. 

His forests were probably the best that I've ever seen. Dean told me that the key to a realistic forested area was to use different sizes and brands of trees with a few non-green colors added in here and there. This created a realistic diversity of trees that really made the scene POP.

It sounds obvious, but too many of us go another way with our terrain. Below is a picture of Dean West's game at the 2009 SYWA convention.

Dean West (center, with beard) at the 2009 Seven Years War Association convention.

American Civil War
Dean was well versed in the American Civil War, in addition to his knowledge of 18th Century warfare. In recent years Dean was a member of an ACW cavalry reenactment group that portrayed both Union and Confederate regiments at events. Dean introduced the concept of actually using cavalry tactics in the reenactment events. You would think that the reenactors would already know cavalry tactics, but they didn't so Dean taught them and made them better performers. 

Dean also developed the Johnny Reb set of wargame rules along with John Hill. The rules were very popular with the gaming public. He also created a set of SYW rules called "the Final Argument of Kings" and he would stage historical battles every year at the SYWA  convention.

Dean West (left) at the 2010 SYWA convention.

My Favorite Dean West Story
I can't recall the exact year, but it was the first year that Dr. Christopher Duffy visited the United States to attend a wargame show, this one being at GenCon in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Naturally we were all thrilled at the prospect of meeting Duffy and asking him questions about 18th Century military history. We had arranged for a banquet dinner in Duffy's honor at a nearby restaurant and he gave a speech after dinner.

During the speech there was a fellow at the back of the room heckling Dr. Duffy. He was obviously in his cups and he was ruining the evening for everyone at the banquet. At one point, the heckler shouted, "what about Bosnia?" 

That was enough for Dean. He walked up to the heckler, really got into his face, and said something along the lines of:

"If you don't shut the f*** up I'm going to grab you by the nostrils and drag you out into the street."

Dean might have been short in stature, but he was clearly someone that you wouldn't want to mess with regardless of your own size. When he was really mad (and that didn't happen very often), you could almost see the hair on the back of his neck stand up and his face would get really red. You would know that you were in for some "hurtin' " if Dean ever got to Defcon 4.

The heckler left immediately and vanished into the night.

The audience gave Dean a standing ovation.

I'm sure that Dean probably felt a little embarrased by all the attention; he was that kind of guy.

It goes without saying that we will all miss Dean very much. I think about the vast storehouse of knowledge in Dean that has gone away forever. He could spin a story about some of the most obscure people in history. Above all though, Dean was a leader and a true gentleman and he will be sorely missed by all of us.

Strike the tent, Dean.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Ewald von Kleist & IR55

The death of Ewald von Kleist by the hands of Cossacks at the Battle of Kunersdorf in August 1759

Ewald Christian von Kleist(1715 - 1759) was considered the "poet of the Prussian army" and one of the small  cadre of literary men in the officer corps during the late 1750s. You can read his Wikipedia biography by clicking the link below:

Ewald Christian von Kleist

Ewald von Kleist was a major in the Hauss fusilier regiment (IR55), which was one of the few Saxon regiments , from the mass forced conscription of all Saxon regiments captured at Pirna in 1756, that remained in service. Christopher Duffy describes the regiment as a fusilier regiment wearing fusilier mitres. Kronoskaf illustrates the uniform with a tricorn hat rather than a fusilier mitre.

Colonel's flag of the Hauss regiment - Kronoskaf

IR55 Hauss fusilier regiment uniform - Kronoskaf
Regimental flag of Hauss regiment - Kronoskaf

He died from wounds received at the battle of Kunersdorf (actually some ten days after the battle) and Alfred Rambaud (The Russians and Prussians in the Seven Years War, translated by George Nafziger, 2013).

Among the Prussian officers who fell at Kunersdorf, was one who was mourned in all of Europe's newspapers: it was Ewald von Kleist, major of the Hausen Regiment (IR55), the poet who wrote "Printemps", the author of so many other energetic and gracious pieces. Kleist, aged 44, found a glorious and cruel death. Frederick had drawn this regiment from the army of Prince Henry (serving in Saxony). With Finck's infantry he attacked the Russian positions. He already had a dozen contusions and two fingers  of his right hand were cut. His saber in hand, he charged an Austrian battalion and received a ball in his left hand. Taking  his saber from his mutilated right hand, he continued to fight. A canister shot broke his right arm and knocked him from his horse.

Two of his soldiers carried him to the ambulance, where a surgeon began the necessary amputations. The surgeon was killed by a ball. Some Cossacks came up, robbed him, took his hat, his wig, his shirt. They would have killed him had he not spoken to them in Polish. Taking him for a Pole, they contented themselves with throwing him naked into the swamp. During the night he was saved by some Russian hussars, who dried him off, gave him an old coat and a hat; they warmed him at a camp fire, giving him some bread and water. One of them offered Kleist an 8 Groschen piece, and he refused it.

The Cossacks returned, taking from him everything the hussars had given him. The next morning a Russian officer named Stackelberg, a cavalry captain, found him and had him taken to Frankfurt. Professor Nicolai received him at his house and cared for him. A number of Russian officers came to visit Kleist and offer their services. However, the care arrived too late and on August 24, 12 days after the battle, Kleist died of his wounds. The Russian commander of Frankfurt, Chettnov, rendered him military honors. The body was carried by a dozen grenadiers and the funeral procession was followed by the principal officers of the garrison.

It is obvious that Ewald von Kleist was well-known throughout Europe for his poetry and other literary works, noting the extraordinary care and attention that he received after the battle.

I find the von Kleist story very interesting and having some background on the person makes his regiment more interesting to me. As a consequence, I plan on painting the regiment and adding it to my Prussian Pomeranian Corps army. I note that the uniform has the Swedish cuffs rather than the smaller Prussian style cuffs, so this should add some variety to the uniforms in my army.