Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Future for Fife & Drum and Minden

Celebrations abound over the news of the Minden and Fife & Drum merger.

The response to the news of the Minden- Fife & Drum merger has been very favorable across the various forums and outposts of the wargaming community and I want to thank everyone for their kind comments. I am currently working up some advertising copy so that we can include a full page announcement in the next issue of (#367) of Miniature Wargames so that we can introduce the fine Minden range to the wargaming public in general.

Minden Prussian infantry painted as IR1 von Winterfeld Regiment with GMB flags. These figures will also work as AWI Hessian musketeers.

So what happens next?

Moving The Inventory: The first thing is to start the process of moving the extensive pile of inventory from the UK to the US and according to Frank, there is a LOT of inventory to move -- something on the order of a dozen or more boxes. Yikes! I figure that it could take 4 to 8 weeks to get all of that done, and then unpack and store the new figures in parts bins, etc, etc. before I will be ready to open the doors for trading.

F&D Still Open For Business: In the interim, Fife & Drum AWI figures and AWI/SYW era artillery equipment are still available for order shipping now. It is rather fortuitous that we can directly pair the F&D artillery equipment up with the Minden SYW artillery crews. It's not that I foresaw this merger coming, by any means, but rather, that I commissioned the French and Prussian artillery because (a) I had found a good sculptor for the equipment, and (b) I needed 1/56 scale artillery for my own Minden armies. Now that Minden is in the fold, we will certainly want to add Austrian artillery pieces to the range as well as add more to the existing French, Prussian and British range of artillery. Can you say Brummers ?

Setting Up Shop (on-line ordering): Next on my list is setting up an on-line web site with a shopping cart feature so that our customers can order direct rather than via e-mail. Now that our range has close to 400 different figures, the sheer size of the venture requires bona fide on-line shopping.  I would also like to develop the web site so that it includes informational content such as wargame scenarios, uniform information, down-loadable rules and much more.

UK Distributor: This is probably the number one question asked of me by our Euroland customers, "are you going to have a distributor in the UK to serve the UK and Europe?"  It would certainly make sense to have both Fife & Drum and Minden figures available in the UK, especially since the figures are manufactured in the UK by Griffin Moulds. This will take a bit of time to work on as I don't personally know anyone in the UK who is in the figure sales/distribution and in my book, having a good personal relationship with your potential business partner is the most important variable in the mix. So if I can find that person, and the distribution arrangements are economically viable for both parties, then I can foresee having a UK distributor in the future.

In the interim though, I plan to subsidize Euroland purchases by"eating" a large portion of the shipping cost (up to say, $25 in shipping costs) by providing free shipping in Euroland for several months to see how this works out. This should help to even out the purchasing cost for someone who was previously buying the figures directly from Frank in the UK.  The rest of world: you will still have to pay full shipping cost with your order as you were already doing so before the merger. Obviously our customers in the USA will benefit from lower shipping costs and quicker delivery, now that the Minden figures will be warehoused in the USA.

New Figures/Additions to the Range: We will continue to add new figures to both the Minden and the Fife & Drum figure ranges. In the short term, Richard Ansell and I are working toward meeting our Kickstarter commitments for AWI cavalry, Hessians, Highlanders and French. At some point in 2014, I expect to add some new Minden figures to the range and then going forward, alternate releases between AWI and SYW on a regular basis. The first Minden releases under the new regime will probably cover the Western Germany theatre of operations (i.e. French, British and Allies). It pains me to say that as personally I would rather add more Prussians for my own selfish purposes, but the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, as someone once said.

Some of these would look nice in the Minden range of figures.

Hessians for the AWI: Yes, we still intend to add Hessians to the Fife & Drum range for the AWI, but in doing some research, it occurs to me that the Hessians still wore gaitors for much of the war and only a few regiments converted to the one-piece "overalls" leg wear. So that means that you could use Minden SYW Prussians for your AWI Hessians. So if you absolutely can't wait for the F&D Hessians, why not consider buying some Minden Prussians to get a head start on your Hessian army. I have been doing the same thing in my own AWI British/Hessian army. Since both ranges are made by the same sculptor, why not?

Are You Going to Add Russians to the Minden Range? :  Eventually, I am sure, but I have a lot of other things that I want to add to fill out the existing Minden range of figures before embarking on adding Russians. I really can't stray too far from the AWI until we meet our Kickstarter obligations. Once those have been put into production, then due consideration can be made for adding Russians and more of the things that I want for my own collection (see below).

What is on Fritz's Minden Wish List?
Owning your own miniatures business is sort of like handing over the keys to the candy store to a 10-year old. It seems that you could have almost anything that you wanted. That is true with a miniatures business to some degree, but consideration has to be given to what the customers want, while at the same time, not pushing Richard to the point of exhaustion with endless demands for new stuff. But if I could snap my fingers and have it all, here are some of the things that I would want to add to the Minden SYW range, in no particular order:

1. Prussian Guards (IR6, IR15/I Liebgarde, IR15 2nd and 3rd battalions.)
2. Prussian von Kliest Freikorps (dragoons, hussars, Kroaten infantry, lancers)
3. Prussian horse artillery
4. Prussian Bosniaks
5. Firing line poses for all the nations in the range
6. Austrian horse grenadiers and carabiniers
7. French Maison du Roi cavalry and Gardes Francaises
8. French infantry and cavalry in bearskins
9. Irregular Croats for the War of Austrian Succession (i.e. an assortment of unmatched uniforms) both       in skirmishing and "looting" poses.

This is by no means the ultimate list of Minden additions, so if something has been left off the list, do not fear, we will probably get to it in due time.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Fife & Drum Acquires Minden Miniatures

I am pleased to announce that effective today, Fife & Drum Miniatures has acquired the Minden SYW range of figures. As you know, both ranges are sculpted by Richard Ansell at a 1/56 scale, and I would imagine that there will be many benefits from housing both ranges under one umbrella.

I will begin trading (sales) of the Minden range from the US sometime in November 2013. We have to ship all of the inventory to the States, organize the stock and administrative details, etc before opening our doors. In the interim though, I can still accept Fife & Drum AWI orders and ship them in the customary fashion.

The Minden figures will continue to be cast by Griffin Moulds in the UK, so there will be no compromising on the casting quality of both figure ranges. All orders will be picked and shipped from the United States for the time being, while we assess the pros and cons of having a UK-based distributor for both figure ranges. During the interim period, I am going to offer free shipping up to $25.00 in shipping costs to Minden customers in the UK and Europe so that they can pay the same relative cost for figures as they have in the past. I will try this out for a couple of months to see how it works.

I will provide more details later this evening as I am typing this announcement on my iPad, which limits the features that I can normally use from my desktop computer.

I look forward to serving existing F&D clients as well as our new Minden clients.

Minden Miniatures Review on Youtube

Some Minden Austrian cavalry, painted by Leuthen Studios. Click to enlarge.

I stumbled across this 9 minute video on You Tube in which a gentleman does a little "show and tell" routine in which he talks about some Minden French infantry figures that he is using for his French and Indian War army for Muskets & Tomahawks.

Here is a link (sorry, but I can't figure out how to embed a You Tube video into Blogger - I know that there is an icon on Blogger for videos, but I am not able to upload the videos):

I rather enjoy his descriptions of the figures and his selection of some of his "favorites".  I like this man's enthusiasm for his project.

Click on the link, sit back and enjoy the video.

This kind of makes me want to do some videos and post them on my blog, if I can figure out the technology part of it.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Von Seydlitz Cuirassier Regiment (CR8) - Minden Miniatures
I finally found the time to finish off the first 24 of an eventual 32-figure Prussian cuirassier regiment from the fabulous Minden Miniatures range of SYW figures. These figures are sculpted to  a 1/56 scale and since they are sculpted to a scale, rather than an arbitrary size (such as 28mm), they have lifelike and realistic proportions that make them very graceful to behold.

The flags are from GMB Designs and the background terrain was made by Herb Gundt. The painting was done by Der Alte Fritz, himself.

A close-up view of one of the squadrons, including the kettle drummer and the von Seydlitz personality figure.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Fife & Drum Rules For Free

Continentals observe the approach of the British Light Battalion. Will the Americans stay or will they go? I really want to know. (Fife & Drum Miniatures - click to enlarge the view).

There was a nice wargame report posted on The Miniatures Page today, featuring my Fife & Drum rules for the American Revolution (or AWI, if you are so inclined to call it). A number of people were asking how they could obtain a copy of the rules.


Here is the link to the original blog posting on the Land of the Lead blog in Australia:

Land of the Lead Blog

I wanted to remind everyone that the Fife & Drum rules are free for the asking. They are printed on one side of a single sheet of 8-1/2 by 11 inch paper in PDF format. Just send me an e-mail with your request and I will zap you a copy via e-mail at no charge.


I have been reading  several books about the 1776 campaign in New York and one of the constant themes is that many, but not all, ran away or skedadled when the British infantry approached there position. I wanted to recreate this aspect with a "test of nerve" for all American troops to see if they would stick around whilst "seeing the elephant".

So what I plan to do is use a D6 and each time the British approach within say 12 inches of any American regiment, then said regiment will roll one D6 to see what they do:

A roll of 1-2 = Rout (immediately)
3-4 = fall back 6" facing the enemy, in good morale order
5-6 = stand your ground (no effect)

Once an American regiment has performed this roll of dice, it will not have to take the test of nerves for the remainder of the game. It will still take morale checks, when needed, but the D6 die roll will determine how they react to the British today.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Herd of Horses Arrives for AWI

Richard Ansell sent me some pictures of his work in process on the AWI dragoons for the Fife & Drum range. For starters, we have six new horses to add to the range to go along with the dragoons .

Next, Richard has been working on the basic "dollies" for the British and Continental dragoons. These will serve as the starting point for each casting. The point is that by creating some torso pieces, heads, and equipment, Richard will not have to keep making these parts over and over again for each individual figure. The parts are on their way to Griffin Moulds for casting. Once the metal components are cast, then Richard can start turning them into finished dragoons by adding arms, heads, coats, belts and equipment, etc.

Cuirassier Progress Report

Von Seydlitz Cuirassier Regiment (KR8) - Minden Miniatures.
As of Monday evening I have completed the first 12 figures in the von Seydlitz cuirassier regiment for my Minden Miniatures project. I have another five figures in primer so I can start working on those tomorrow evening. Then I plan to primer another 8 figures to bring the regiment up to 25 figures. Eventually, it may be as large as 32 figures.

I am trying to figure out what to do with the Minden kettledrummer that I painted. One option is to base the figure on a 2-inch round base and use it as a sort of vignette that can follow the regiment around on the tabletop. The other option is to make the kettledrummer an integral part of the wargame unit, i.e. base the kettledrummer with another figure (probably the standard) on a 2-inch square base.

I don't know, what do you readers think I should do?

Minden Miniatures Prussian Kettledrummer, painted in KR8 livery.

These figures will be a part of my "Minden Project" of armies using a 1:20 figure to man ratio. They will have approximately 30-32 figures per regiment or battalion, as opposed to the BAR units which use a 1:10 figure to man ratio. One of my regular opponents was getting a bit worried that I was building up more cuirassiers for my BAR army. That is not the case, so let not your heart be troubled my dear friend. The same player regularly command the Russian army, which has defeated my Prussian army something on the order of 3 out of 4 games that we have played. The Russians are armed to the teeth with cannon and I don't particularly like doing battle with them for that reason. A cannon ball doesn't care if it is striking down a guard grenadier or the lowliest freikorps soldier. It is all flesh and bone in the end.

Um, moving on to other more pleasant topics, it seems that Fritz is back in full SYW-painting mode as he uses the time between now and the release of the Kickstarter AWI figures to do some recreational painting. In this case, we are talking about Minden SYW figures, which are a real joy to paint. I had a lot of fun painting the Prussian kettledrummer and I have one more such figure, which I might paint as a member of the KR13 Guard du Corps or the KR10 Gens d'Armes.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

It's Cuirassier Week!

Von Seydlitz Cuirassier Regiment (KR8) by Knotel.

The other evening, I broke out the unpainted Minden SYW Prussian cuirassiers from their storage box and resolved to finally paint them. I have probably had them for at least a couple of years, but my "Minden Project" kind of got derailed by Fife & Drum and the development of our BAR Napoleon rules for 1:10 ratio units.

I completed some Minden Austrian cuirassiers several weeks ago, so I figured that I should return the favor and paint a Prussian cavalry regiment next. If they are Prussian cuirassiers, then they can be none other than KR8 - the von Seydlitz regiment.  The regiment was considered one of the finest cavalry units in the Prussian army, due in large part to the strict training of its inhaber, von Seydlitz.

The regiment was very active during the Seven Years War, participating in the battles of Lobositz, Prague, Kolin, Rossbach, Leuthen, Zorndorf, Hochkirch, Hoyerswerda, Liegnitz, Torgau, Langensalza, Kloster Wahlstadt, Leutmannsdorf (also known as Burkersdorf) and Reichenbach.

So I have started work on the first 16 figures and should get those completed by the end of this coming week and then I will pitch into the second 16 figures to complete the 32 figure unit. I like to break the figures down into smaller batches so as to trick myself into thinking that I am getting something done.

I always begin by painting one figure completely, from start to finish, so that I can get a better sense of the order in which all of the pieces should be painted. This also alerts me to any difficult parts of the figure, which might be easier to paint if done earlier or later in the painting process. The figure also serves as a painting template for the rest of the regiment as I start to paint the other figures.

The test figure was fairly easy to paint - no tricky bits to worry about. I have recently changed my painting process a little bit so that I paint the basic colors of the horse first, and then work on the riders to completion, then finish off the tack on the horse and add any finishing features such as socks, blazes, etc. I used to paint the horse last, which can be a bit complicated if you use the dry brushing technique, for you might get some of the paint on the rider's horse furniture. It seems to work well for me.

I will provide more updates on the von Seydlitz Cuirassiers throughout this coming week.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Wilhelm zu Inn und Knyphausen

Lt. General von Knyphausen
I have been hunting down information about Lt. General Baron von Knyphausen, the commander of the Hessian forces in North America during the American Revolution. I happened to stumble across this picture of the general in what looks like the uniform of the Hessian Lieb Garde, although it could well be his own regimental uniform of the von Knyphausen fusilier regiment. Maybe senior offiers had more gold or silver lace on their lapels.  I found the picture in Christopher Duffy's book, The Best of Enemies, Germans Against Jacobites, 1746 published by The Emperor's Press (Chicago) in 2013.

So far, this is the only picture that I could find of the Baron in uniform. The other pictures depict him in what I call "studio armour", i.e. he is posing in a cuirasse and a white kollet instead of his regimental officer's coat, as shown below (thanks to Pete Lamb for finding this picture). It appears that Knyphausen is wearing the Prussian Pour-le-Merit medal and accompanying sash. He was a general in the Prussian army before serving in America, so I am assuming that he received a Prussian award for his service. On the other hand, it could be a Hessian Order or Medallion that he is wearing as the Landgraf Friedrich II of Hesse Kassel is wearing the same order in his portrait.

Wilhelm von Knyphausen, at at younger age than shown in the first picture at the top of the page.

Prussian Order of St. John
One of our readers suggested that Knyphausen might be wearing the Prussian Order of St. John medal, which is shown above. This looks very similar to the medal on his cuirasse studio armour. Another reader suggest that Landgraf Friedrich II is wearing the Order of the Garter, rather than the Black Eagle and I think that he might be correct.

A little more pictorial research provides this picture of the Landgraf Friedrich II of Hesse Kassel wearing his Lieb Garde uniform and the same award as Knyphausen has. Friedrich also wears the Prussian Order of the Black Eagle over  his heart.

Frederick II of Hesse Kassel
Thus the picture of the Landgraf provides us with the clue to the color of Knyphausen's sash (blue) as they both wear the same order.

Here is a brief biograph of Knyphausen, copied from Wikipedia:

His father was colonel in a German regiment under the Duke of Marlborough. Knyphausen was educated in Berlin, entered the Prussian military service in 1734, and in 1775 became a general officer in the army of Frederick the Great. In the army of Hesse-Kassel (or Hesse-Cassel), Knyphausen was a lieutenant general. In 1776, with 42 years of military experience, he came to the Thirteen Colonies of North America as second in command of an army of 12,000 so-called “Hessians” under General von Heister.

I tried searching on -line to see if I could determine which Orders Knyphausen had received, but I did not find his name in the limited lists of Pour-le-Merit or Order of the Black Eagle recipients that I found on-line. Perhaps someone has a book that would list this information for the 18th Century and could confirm or disprove the Orders for our general.

Oh, by the way, the information that I am collecting is going to Richard Ansell so that he can sculpt the von Knyphausen personality figure that is one of the rewards in the Fife & Drum Kickstarter project that closed in July 2013. We want to tie down some of the information on Knyphausen before the sculpting begins.

A Format Change

I decided to really get wacky and add a picture that I scanned into the header of my blog page. Technical things like scanning pictures and uploading images into Blogger are not easy tasks for this old wargamer. So I am quite pleased with myself this evening for having accomplished the format change.

So every time you look at the page, there you will see the header picture of Frederick being greeted by the Bernberg Regiment after the Battle of Lignitz. The regiment had been disgraced in an earlier battle for its poor performance, but after its heroics at Lignitz, Frederick restored their colours and other honours and the regiment was back in his good graces. That did not happen very often, for if you got on the wrong side of Frederick, the consequences were usually dire for you.

The picture is a scan of a Richard Knotel drawing found in the book "Der Alte Fritz in 50 Bildern". I must say, aren't those Prussian uniforms magnificent?

All right then, I am going to retire to Fritz's Man Cave (how would you say Fritz's Cave in German?) and sort out some of my Minden Prussian and Austrian cuirassiers. Enough of this Napoleonic jazz, it is time to get down with the 18th Century again!

I think that I will top off the evening by reading a little bit of Charles S. Grant's "Wargaming In History, Volume 2" and see if I can figure out a way for the Good Guys to finally win the battle of Fontenoy in 1745.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

British 45th Foot - 1809

British 45th Regiment (Nottinghamshire) added to my Peninsula Brigade.

I have been working on another British Napoleonic regiment to add to my brigade for our Iberian Campaign with Major General Pettygree. The figures are all from Elite Miniatures and the flags are my usual choice - GMB Designs. Through the Labor Day weekend, I have built the regiment up to 60 figures (or 600 men at our 1:10 ratio) and I have another company of 12 figures nearly completed. The regiment will eventually be 84 figures strong (or 840 men). 

I have decided that the regiment is of sufficient strength to have the finished component board ships and sail to Portugal, where they will be temporarily assigned to the Lisbon garrison. Eventually, they will join Alexander Sinclair's brigade which includes the 83rd and 94th Regiments and three companies of the 5/60th Rifles. The latter two regiments are part of Pettygree's army, currently deployed near Aveiro, south of the Duoro River. Once I paint the other 24 figures, the regiment will be completed, as will be the brigade. Three regiments in a brigade seems like enough figures to me.

While I have many more unpainted British figures (enough to add one British and one Highland regiment and one Portuguese regiment), I will probably leave them alone for awhile and wait to see how the campaign carries on. For one thing, I do not want to paint an endless number of redcoats. My original plan was to keep my force at one brigade and I would like to stick to that plan. Mind you, painting 90 Connoisseur Highlanders as the 42nd Regiment is a very tempting prospect as I love Highland regiments.

You might have noticed that I terrained the bases on the 45th, whereas my other two regiments have metal bases painted green, in a kind of Old School theme. However, it was always my intention to terrain all of my troops so I thought that I would break the ice by finishing off the bases on the 45th as I complete the painting of the same. This is better than putting off the task for another day -- that usually leads to nothing happening. I also applied the spackle compound and grit to the 83rd and the next step will be to dab brown ink onto the base, let it dry, then dry brush flesh color, and finally, add the static grass. I have chosen a dried out looking grass since the troops will be in the Peninsula, and I think that the effect is very pleasing to the eye.

This post is my 108th post of the year: a new record for this blog. The previous annual high posts was 107. I have surpassed that level with four months remaining in the year, so undoubtedly the records will continue to be broken.

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Mess Is Addressed

Fritz's Man Cave is looking a little bit better today.

The state of Potsdam parade ground was really starting to annoy me, so last night I was faced with the choice of painting more figures or picking up the basement. I chose the latter and you can see a general improvement in the room in the accompanying pictures when compared to the pix post yesterday.

The next step is to tidy things up a bit beneath the table ( akin to the warehouse archives building in the first Indiana Jones movie) where what goes in is never to be found again. However, that is a job for another day. I still need to hook up the old Compaq PC in the back corner -- I still use this to print out name tags on my figure bases or print orders of battle. The laser printer is still much better than the inkjet printer on our main iMac computer and while the PC is probably 12 years old, the word processing function works just fine, so I keep the old beast for Wargame purposes.

My painting table is still a wreck, but I can't do much about that. An artist needs his work space, don't you know.

The painting table in its usual state of appearance.
I have been working on the 45th Regiment for my British Peninsula army and now have it up to 60 figures of the eventual 84 figure regiment. I use 12- figure companies but only field 7 of the 10 companies as I don't want to have a hundred figure regiment. I could do it, but I'd rather not.

I will post some pictures of the 45th later this evening.