Thursday, December 31, 2020

Bye Bye 2020!

I suppose that I should use the phrase “ in these uncertain times” somewhere in this post, but it’s become trite and I am tired of hearing it. 2020 had some of the obvious lows related to the pandemic. We also lost our beloved hound, Tiberius, to cancer, but that was quickly offset with the new member to our family: Augustus (“Augie the Doggie) in February and the later addition of Bella in October. It is a joy (well, it has its moments) to have dogs around the house and I’m proud of Augie for stepping up and taking Bella under his wing. The two animals are the closest of friends.

Lelia had a bit of difficulty adjusting to virtual school, but in the end, she passed with flying colors by earning an A in Music and a B in an extremely hard US History course. Even I, the household’s history expert, was taken aback by how hard some of the history class assignments were at Oakton Community. College.


Looking back, there was a lot of good stuff happening that made it easier to get through 2020.

1) Phil Olley’s Virtual Wargames Club was a much needed tonic for the spirits as people from all corners of the world met every Saturday to talk wargaming and painting projects for a couple of hours. I already knew some of the members via their blogs and presence on the internet, so it was great to meet them sort of face to face, which made getting to know them even better. It was also great making new friends in the VWC. All in all, a big plus.

2) The 54mm Sudan Project.: my “COVID Project” entailed doing something completely different as I ventured outside of the 18th Century and went on an expedition in the Sudan to fight The Mahdi. I must have painted nearly 500 to 600 plastic toy soldier figures for the project. Perhaps the most satisfying part of the project was the need to build my own 54mm buildings to create the walls and city of Khartoum. I hadn’t attempted to scratch build my own buildings since the 1980s, so there was a bit of a learning curve required to ramp up the production. I must give a big Thank You to the members of the VWC for their suggestions and ideas for the buildings. I’m particularly indebted to Tidders ( Kingdom of Wittenberg blog) for his many tips that enabled me to “crack the code” in building construction techniques. Then we capped off the project by actually playing a Wargame featuring the Dervish attack on Khartoum. This was one of only two in person Wargames that I played during the COVID-19 era this year. Boy oh boy, did we have some fun there!

3) Fife and Drum Miniaturess rolled it its Saratoga figure range in late 2019 to early 2020 as RichardAnsell continued to churn out an impressive number of new figures over the past year. The Mohawk Indians, Morgan’s Rifles, and personality figures for Washington, Greene, Cornwallis and Howem(;sounds like the name of a law firm, doesn’t it?) were added to the range during 2020. There will be some interesting surprises that I will roll out in 2021, but I can’t let you in on the secret just yet. 😈

4) The aforementioned addition of the two hounds this year was fun and loving, and occasionally difficult, but well worth the time invested and the return of love from our dogs. As I type this blog, little Bella, the Golden Retriever, is sleeping at my feet. Actually, she is sleeping on my feet.

5) Mrs. Fritz has continued to build on her stand up story telling performances via Zoom and she has started a related business venture which is getting its legs in 2021. I am so proud of her and her fearless ability to stand up in front of a crowd and tell a person story.

6) We are all healthy and Covid-19 free. The introduction of three new vaccines, as of today, give all of us hope that we will defeat this virus and return to a normal life by the end of the 2021 year.

7) I had lots and lots of free painting time to help me get through the mental part of the pandemic; at least I did until Bella the Puppy came along and turned me into a dog sitter instead of a figure painter.

So on the balance, the good outweighs the bad, but like everyone these days, I say good riddance to 2020 and am confident that we will have a great 2021. ( oh, and I hit my goal of writing 100 blog posts this year).

Here’s to a happy New Year in 2021.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Prussian Artillery of the SYW


Prussian 12-pound Brummers from Fife & Drum Miniatures.

 Prussian battery of 12-pounders, shown with limber teams and supply wagons.

These are two of my favorite pictures of my Prussian artillery.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Austrian Artillery in the SYW


Austrian battery of 12-pounders

I like this series of photos that I took awhile back showing a battery of Fife and Drum Miniatures Austrian 12-pounders plus limber teams. The vignette shows the depth of an artillery battery with its supporting limbers, horse teams and ammo wagons (well, no ammo wagons in these pictures.

Note the use of the Minden pioneer figures as Austrian artillery crewmen.

Limber horses and drivers are from RSM.

Monday, December 28, 2020

French Artillery of the SYW


Minden Miniatures SYW French 12-pounder artillery battery.

Here is a diorama that I made a few years ago of a French artillery battery circa the Seven Years War. All figures are Minden Miniatures and all equipment is from the Fife and Drum artillery equipment range. The French 12-pound Valliere System cannon (AE-010) is a beautiful model with lots of intricate barrel detail “bling” on it.

In the diorama I had to make the ram rods longer to account for the longer barrel length. This is done easily with a piece of wire and some green epoxy putty to make the swab and push ends of the ram rod.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Battle of Trenton


Night March of the Continentals on Trenton, by Don Troiani.

Fife and Drum Continentals on the March to Trenton 

I am writing this blog post at 12:08AM on the morning of December 26th. On the same day and time in 1776 the Continental Army commanded by George Washington was crossing the Delaware River and marching on the town of Trenton, New Jersey. The Americans hoped to surprise the Hessian garrison in Trenton by crossing the river and launching an early morning attack.

In December 2016 I played a Wargame of Trenton as a solo game. In fact I played it twice and the Americans won both times. Here are several pictures of the game.

Friday, December 25, 2020

Merry Christmas Everyone


Der Alte Fritz, Mrs. Fritz and Lady Emma Cuddleston-Smythe wish all of our blog followers and friends a Merry Christmas . Like most families, we are staying home this year and seeing our relatives via Zoom, rather than in person.

On Christmas Day we will open presents in the morning, after which, I will cook my traditional Christmas breakfast of waffles with maple syrup, turkey bacon and fresh squeezed orange juice.

Undoubtedly we will walk the royal hounds, Augie and Bella and then get to work preparing the afternoon dinner. This year it’s turkey with mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and asparagus followed by a Yule Log cake for desert.

Who knows, there might even be some time for a Teddy Bear wargame.

Merry Christmas 

Thursday, December 24, 2020

This Will Lift Your Spirit in 2020

 In 2012 an orchestral flashmob gathered in a Spanish town and staged this wonderful street performance. Please click the YouTube link and spend the 5:19 minutes to watch and listen. Some of my readers may have seen this in the past, but it is new to me and it really left me with a feeling of hope for the world as it struggles with the Covid-19 pandemic as well as with a sense of joy that better days are ahead of us all.

Ode to Joy flashmob

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to us all.