Saturday, April 9, 2011

Little Wars 2011 Convention Report

Spectacular 28mm terrain for a French & Indian War skirmish game. Note the painted backdrop. The fort was magificent and there was a really cool looking British ship sailing up the river to attack the French fort.

I spent Saturday afternoon at the HMGS-Midwest's annual Little Wars Convention and had fun looking at all of the games and investigating what new treasures there were in the dealer area. I was not particularly enamored with the new venue, largely because it is about a two hour drive from my house, whereas the old site was just fifteen minutes away. Oh well. Other than that, the venue at the DuPage Expo Center seemed OK, but it was about half the size of the Marriot Tennis Courts used in previous years. Games seemed to be packed in a little bit tighter, as you might expect.

There did not seem to be as many dealers attending this year, but I could be wrong about that as that was just my impression. The one thing about the convention that really stood out was the quality of the games and the terrain that the game judges were using. I would estimate that about one third of the tables had custom-made terrain boards that were by in large, very impressive.

ACW game in 28mm using Hotz terrain mats and beautiful Old Glory 2nd Generation figures.

The game shown above was really an eye-catcher due to the high quality of the painted miniatures. The game judge told me that they were painted by the fellow who has the blog titled, "McPhee's Miniature Men". He used a mix of Foundry, 2nd Generation Old Glory and Crusader, to name a few, but it was the 2nd Generation Old Glory ACW figures that really caught my eye. They are really beautiful figures and evoke the style of the late Dave Alsop's original OG ACW range.

54mm Alamo game is a perennial favorite.

The Alamo game, in 54mm, has been at the last couple of conventions and it never fails to draw a crowd of onlookers. You can tell that all of the players are having fun participating in this game.

And now for a couple of WW2 games that looked very good to me. I also had a picture of a spectacular 28mm Arnheim game, but alas, the picture was a bit too blurry to use on this blog.

This looks like a Flames of War game. Note the build up of the contours using pink insulation board. The terrain included a nice resin-poured stream.

I think that this was a 28mm or a 54mm Stalingrad game. This one has been at Little Wars for several years now. The ruins are scratch built and the rubble consists of colored cardboard pieces that are randomly scattered across the table. Simple, but very effective idea for rubble.

Now, on to the dealer area:

Some of the new offerings from Miniature Building Authority: Spanish or Caribbean town in 28mm. The Governor's House on the high ground was very attractive. I almost got weak in the knees when I saw it. I really, really wanted to buy it, but I resisted.

Rich Houston's scratch built ships. By the end of the afternoon, most of the models on the table had been sold. The paddle wheel steamer was priced at $500 (the kit alone cost $300) and was very well crafted.

Hasslefree Miniatures' 15mm flying boat decorated the Miniature Building Authority display. I want several of these. Hmm, gives me ideas for my 18th Century Flying Machines Game that I have been thinking about doing one day.

I didn't do much shopping this year as I was meeting Herb Gundt at the convention and picking up some Highland Crofts that he made for my Jacobite Rebellion army, plus another dozen or so large trees that Herb creates to a very high standard. So that kind of tapped out my spending funds. However, I've now got the Old Glory 2nd Generation ACW range, the MBA Caribbean buildings and a few other items on my radar for future purchases.

In summary, Little Wars was a bit further drive from my house, the new venue is a bit cozier, but the quality of the games was noticeably better. I did not run a game this year, as I am still feeling a bit burned out from gaming, plus, I wanted to see the lay of the land and determine what the logistical requirements would be at the new, but unfamiliar site. I will probably run an AWI game at next year's Little Wars convention in April 2012.


  1. Very enjoyable pics - thanks for sharing! The marvelous FIW terrain looks more like a diorama (or Japanese miniature garden)than like a playing area.
    You resisted the MBA offering? Wait until they produce 'Germanic' (or 'Miskatonic Valley') buildings!

    Great to read that your '18th Century Flying Machines Game ' is still a living project? Will Milady de Winter dare to embark aboard such a flying contraption? I confess that the Hasslefree airboat is nice and propitious, yet would need a crew of 3 and a balloon overhead -and would deserve an elaborated painting of its gondola.

  2. P.S.: Airboat: 'Hasslefree-like' almost contemporary (early Napoleonic) illustration

  3. Great photo's! I was very impressed with the FIW game, it looks fantastic, wish I owned it!

  4. Hey Fritz,

    Great recap. I was the guy with the Civil War Command & Colors game whose figures were painted by Scott MacPhee. :)

    One addition to your comment above: There were also many Sash & Saber figures in my Civil War armies. I would say that it has the following ratio:

    50% Sash & Saber
    35% Old Glory 2nd Edition (I especially like their selection of officers on foot!)
    15% Crusader (marching poses, flag bearers, and a few officers)

    A few Wargames Foundry sprinkled in, but not many.

  5. I had just psoted my recap of Little Wars when I found yours. Funnily enough, I had just posted that I like the new venue better becasue now it's closer to my house. LOL

    I'm in Plainfield (just south of Naperville near Rt 59) if you ever want to play Napoleonic or Civil War Command & Colors.



  6. Thanks for sharing. One or two small corrections - the 'big' buildings were for a 54mm Private Ryan game and the pink foam board with resin streams was a 20mm Rapid Fire I believe. Lots of aircraft and naval games too this convention.

  7. Nice post. Some good looking games there.

  8. The beautiful pic of the F&I game was put on by Micheal Harris, of Grand Rapids Michigan. Randy Frye and I have convinced him to bring it to the 2012 SYWA event in South Bend.


    Dale Wood

  9. Hi.
    Did you ever manage to sell your superb ACW stuff? We're doing something 'a bit different' next year; anyone care to join a European batlefield tour where we travel through the night and explore during the day? have a look at and see what we're up to.