|18th Century Russian infantry and artillery designed by John Ray.
Photo courtesy of John Rayand copy right by John Ray and family.
I have to say that the news I am reporting "made my day" when I first heard of it. I opened up the Emperor versus Elector blog this afternoon and scrolled down through the list of some of my favorite blogs, when I spied "Classic Wargaming" by Phil Olley. There are a few blogs that I put in my "stop everything and read now" category, and Phil's is one of those. Imagine then my delight when I read Phil's announcement about the pending publication of a book by John Ray. I have been anticipating the publication of John's book, illustrated by pictures of his own unique figures, for some time now so it goes without saying that I am very excited by this news:
If you click on the second link above, to John Ray's new blog site, called "A Military Gentleman", you will have a better idea of what I am talking about. The site is named after the pending book of the same name.
John has been working on this book for about seven years, and every so often he would give us a glimpse of the scope and quality of the project by publishing a few pictures on various internet forums or in some of the wargame publications. I have been looking forward to the publication of the book with a great of anticipation over the years, knowing that it would be illustrated with many pictures of the wargame collection that John has sculpted entirely by himself.
According to the link, the book will have about 300 pages and a gallery of over 100 pages, chock full of the wonderful creations of John Ray. It will have a limited print run of 500 copies, so if you are a kindred spirit with me, i.e. a member of the John Ray Fan Club, then you will want to visit the site and click on the e-mail link to express your interest in purchasing a copy for your own library.
I have been a long time fan of John Ray's sculpting talents and his ability to focus in on one historical period. John learned his sculpting trade via his friendship with the late Steve Hezzlewood, who many of you know through his work on the RSM Miniatures line of 18th Century figures. I can't recall when I first saw John's work, it was probably in an old issue of Wargames Illustrated when I saw pictures of his Zulu War and AWI collections. When I saw the latter collection, my first thought was "I didn't know that RSM Miniatures made those figures?". It was only later that I learned that John had sculpted the figures for himself and that he was building up a large AWI collection.
Imagine that you have the talent to sculpt wargame figures. Then imagine that you could have any figure that you wanted, just by collecting some copper wire, a soldering iron and some epoxy putty or Milliput. Well, that is what John Ray can do. One of his trademarks is the vignette. John draws inspiration from historical military art prints and then recreates the scene in 28mm figures which grace his wargame table. Over the years, I have been following his AWI project with great interest and watched as this evolved into a wider hypothetical European war that might have taken place during the 1770-1789 period. John built Hessian, Prussian, French, Spanish, Austrian, Russian, Ottoman Turks and probably a few countries that I have missed.