Thursday, June 30, 2016

Zieten Hussars - Minden Miniatures Pix

Zieten Hussars, coming right at you! Click picture to enlarge and get ridden over.

I finished this 12-figure squadron of Zieten Hussars back in April 2016, but forgot to post any pictures, so here they are. The bases have subsequently been finished with static grass and tufts. I used to two existing Minden light cavalry horses (legs bunched and legs stretched) and added a couple of charging horses from the Fife & Drum AWI range of light horses to create some more variety among the brutes. I believe that the officer figure on the stand with the trumpeter is one of the F&D horses.

I organize my SYW cavalry into two so-called "squadrons" of 12 figures, or 24 figures per normal sized cavalry regiment. At a 20:1 figure to man ratio, my cavalry units should probably be around 30 to 36 figures with an actual squadron represented by six figures, but I don't want to go that small. Twelve horse seems about right for the minimum size unit on the table top.  The Zieten Hussar regiment actually had ten squadrons, which would be around 60 figures in my game organization of forces. I really do not want to paint 60 hussars.

Zieten Hussars (HR2) - Minden Miniatures.

Between preparations for the big Sudan Toy Soldier game on July 23rd, and the arrival of the Fife & Drum Hessian castings from the caster, I have been too busy to get back to the painting table to finish the second squadron of 12 hussars.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Sudan Terrain Is Set Up

Steadfast Toy Soldiers Defend Their Zaria
Last night I cleared off my wargame table of SYW figures and battles and set up the Sudan desert terrain for our toy soldier game on July 23, 2016. I wanted to make sure that there would be enough room for all of the toy soldiers, 300+ Dervish and 100 to 150 British figures. I am happy to say that I think that we have enough space to maneuver and not be overcrowded with figures.

The Dervish attack the square (New Britains and John Jenkins Design Dervish)
The ground cover is a backing material called Osnabruck that is typically used to line clothes or curtains. In the store it looked greyer and has a lot of colored flecks in it. However, once spread out on the table, it looked too bright and white, so I had to dull it down with Woodlands Scenics railroad ballast, some brown lichen and a scattering of rocks that I picked up during walks with the dog.

A sight that no European would want to see: a hoard of Dervish on the attack!

The Bad Guy: the Khalifa with his black banner and bodyguard.
The oasis at El-Teb

Closer view of the oasis. The desert well is from King & Country.

A long range view of the center 15x6ft table. I had not applied all of the scenics on the ground cover yet.
Same view, only the railroad ballast has been scattered across the table to make it look sandier.
The above two pictures illustrate the Before and After look of the table after the Buff colored railroad ballast has been shaken over the table. I  think that this does a good job of toning down the light ground cloth and giving it a more desert appearance.

The British zariba. I used moss for the thorn brush that I bought at Michaels Stores.

I found some dried moss at Michael's Stores ( a craft supplies store chain in the USA) and found this to be perfect for making a zariba of brush. The British would stop and hack down brush for a zariba every time they stopped to make a camp. It was a good defensive measure against the sneaky Dervish.

Beja Riflemen pester the square with long range fire.

Here are some Beja or Fuzzy Wuzzy riflemen sniping at the British square from behind some rocks and brush. The figures are from Imperial Productions toy soldiers in New Zealand.

The Ansar charge the square.
New Britains (Nile River Campaign) and John Jenkins Designs figures, above, charge the British square.

Updated photo after ballast has been scattered across the table.

It is looking pretty good so far, don't you think? Comments are most welcome.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

New Fife & Drum AWI Hessians Pix

Hessians in Marching Poses. The NCOs hold their muskets with the strap facing outwards.

Hessian Firing Line Poses: Officer, Grenadier standing in second rank, Grenadier firing, Musketeer standing in second rank, and Musketeer firing.


The AWI Hessians have arrived and I have finally had some time to sort out the figures and devise new product codes for the range and also to paint a few samples of the figures. There are a total of 16 new Hessian figures with enough variants for you to make up grenadier battalions that are either marching or standing firing and musketeer battalions that are either marching or standing firing. The second rank  figure holding his musket upright in the ready position could also be used to make an entire battalion of Hessians in the same pose. You could do the same with the firing poses.

Here are the new product codes for the Hessian range. Command packs will include 4 figures for musketeer units comprised of an officer, standard bearer, NCO and Drummer. Grenadier command packs will consist of only three figures because Hessian grenadier battalions did not carry standards. The marching packs will include 8 figures. The firing line packs will have 8 figures including 4 of the second rank pose and 4 of the standing firing pose. 

HP-001 Musketeer Command, Marching ( 4 figures - officer, std bearer, NCO, drummer) - $8.00
HP-002 musketeer Command, Firing Line (4 figures same as above, but standing) - $8.00
HP-003 Musketeers Marchig (8 figures per pack) - $16.00
HP-004 Musketeer Firing Line (8 figures: 4 each of firing and 2nd rank) - $16.00
HP-005 Grenadier Command, Marching (3 figures: officer in tricorn, NCO & Drum in mitres) - $6.00
HP-006 Grenadier Command, Firing Line ( 3 figures: officer, NCO & Drummer) - $6.00
HP-007 Grenadiers Marching (8 figures) - $16.00
HP-008 Grenadier Firing Line (8 figures, 4 each firing and 2nd rank) - $16.00
HP-009 Extra Standard Bearers (pack of 2 figures) - $4.00

I will add the new product codes to the Fife & Drum Miniatures web site next week, after I have had a chance to mail Hessians rewards to my Kickstarter backers, who deserve to get their figures first.

I don't like to do "pre-orders", but if you send me an e-mail with a list of the figures that you want, I could probably manage to ship them ahead of them being loaded onto the web site store for on-line ordering.

Hessian Grenadiers, marching and firing line.
Reverse view of the first picture.
The AWI Hessians are wearing gaitors, as they did during the first couple of years in the American Revolution. Later in the war, they began wearing the "overalls" just like the British infantry. You could also use the Hessians for SYW Prussians in Swedish cuffs, SYW Hessians and SYW Brunswickers.

Musketeer Firing Line: (L-R)  officer, second rank and front rank firing.

Musketeer Firing Line - reverse image of the first picture.

I haven't had the time to paint the drummers and standard bearers yet, but here are some pictures of them in primer or in the raw metal state.

Hessian Drummers (L-R) Musketeer standing for firing line, Musketeer marching,  Grenadier marching, and Grenadier standing in firing line.

Hessian standard bearers: standing (left) and marching (right)

I'm very anxious to get the Hessians into the on line store on the Fife & Drum Miniatures web site, as I know that you are too. I should have the majority of rewards packed and shipped by this coming Saturday, so after that I can offer the figures to the general public.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Fife & Drum On-line Ordering Is Now Available

Over the weekend I was able to add on- line ordering capabilities for both the SYW and the AWI figure ranges from Fife & Drum. You can now place an order for both ranges (previously, only the AWI figures were available on-line) and use either PayPal or Credit Card for payment.

Shipping charges have been built into the price of the product codes, at least until I can fix the shipping charge function. As a result, prices on the web site are 10% higher than previously listed to cover the shipping and handling costs. Eventually, I will return prices back to their original levels and then the shipping charge will be added when the order is placed. You still have the option of ordering via email for which the usual shipping charges will apply. 

International orders will still ship at a flat rate of $10.00 per package while domestic US orders will remain at the "actual cost" which is usually around $7.00 for US Postal Service Priority Mail or less.

I did an ordering test using both the credit card and the PayPal options and they both worked.

An earlier version of this announcement post had a defective link to the web site and the problem seemed to be on the Blogger end of things, so I deleted the old post from yesterday and replaced it with this announcement.

Click on the link to Fife & Drum Miniatures on the left hand side of this page or enter the URL into your browser:

As an extra incentive for customers to give the on-line ordering a try, all on-line orders placed this week through Friday June 24, 2016 will receive a free Personality figure.

I am really excited to finally bring Fife & Drum Miniatures into the 20th Century with real on-line web site ordering. Give me a few more weeks and we will enter the 21st Century as well with some other enhancements.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Bad News For Whitehall: The Mahdi's Forces Are Growing

A gathering of the Dervish cavalry and camelry in the service of The Mahdi
 (Click on all pictures to enlarge the view)

I have been raising more forces for the Dervish uprising in the Sudan and the collection has grown to an awesome 182 infantry, 23 Camels and 33 horse for a total of 238 54mm toy soldiers. An additional 22 Beja/Hadandoa are known to be tracking Major General Pettygree when he arrives in the Sudan, bringing the grand total up to 260 Mahdists. It seems that tribesman from all manner of figure companies are flocking to the Black Banner of The Expected One:

Dervish infantry: front left (Aylmer), center (Homecasts), right (New Britains Fuzzies) and left rear (Old Britains Arabs of the Desert). Click on all pix to enlarge the view.

Trophy of Wales -- 38
Aylmer                -- 20
Old Britains        -- 44
New Britains      -- 42
J. Jenkins            -- 13
Homecasts          -- 25

Total Foot           182

Alymer              -- 3
Old Britains      -- 7
New Britains    -- 12
John Jenkins    -- 1

Total Camels        23

Alymer              -- 6
John Jenkins     -- 1
Brigade             -- 8
Misc.                 -- 3
Old Britains      -- 15

Total Horse          33

Another view of the Dervish cavalry.
The above pictures do not depict ALL of the Dervish that I currently have. Many of them are displayed on my bookshelves. These pictures are just of the overflow for which I have no available shelf space at the moment.

The Imperial Forces of Britain

Not to be outdone by the natives, a new gunboat has been dispatched up the Nile to assist General Gordon in Khartoum:

Britains Nile River Gunboat and a shore party of the Lancaster & York Regiment, also from Britains.

A view of the stern section.

A view of the bow section and Krupp artillery piece manned by Egyptian artillery crew.

For our toy soldier game in July, we will probably field Imperialists at 50% of the total number of Dervish that we will have in the game. So at the present time, with 230 Mahdists that means that we can field up to 130 figures of infantry and/or cavalry. As I expect the Mahdi to raise more forces ahead of the battle, I will likely add more British infantry from a total pool of available figures of around 250 foot and horse.


Sunday, June 5, 2016

The Growing Toy Soldier Collection

The start of my Britains old toy soldier collection.

Since my last post about my British Colonial toy soldier collection, things have been very busy and active at Schloss Seewald. I kind of have two toy soldier projects that are on going at this point: the Sudan Collection and the Britains Collection.

Part I - The Beginning of the Britains Collection
The Britains Collection is simply an attempt to recapture some childhood memories by acquiring some of the figures that I could only dream of having, but could never afford. This has led me to eBay, for better or for worse, where I have been picking up Britains Grenadier and Coldstream Guards, Gordon and Cameron Highlanders, and French Foreign Legion and Desert Arabs.

You can see the first of the Coldstream Guards in the picture below, flanked by some charging Black Watch Highlanders on the right side. The back row of Guards standing with rifles grounded are particularly worn and beat up - paint chipping and duller colors - but I kind of like them like that. Their old patina has a comforting quality to the figures that I really like- sometimes the more beat up they are the better (as long as their are no missing limbs or broken weapons I will buy them).

Britains Coldstream Guards in the center standing in the center with more deployed into a kneeling line formation out front. I like those Black Watch charging Highlanders too. I always wanted a set of those when I was age 9 or 10.
Below is the start of my Highland Brigade (Camerons, Gordons and Black Watch regiments).  I would like to build the marching regiment of Gordons up to about 50 or 60 figures and maybe half that for the Camerons, in shooting poses.

Camerons in firing order and Gordons in marching order.

And then finally, I decided that I need to have some cavalry in my Britains collection and I think that about 24 to 36 of the Scots Greys in bearskins fill the bill quite nicely. I find 2 here, 4 there, etc on eBay and slowly build up the regiment to an eye pleasing mass.

Britains Scots Greys Dragoon Guards, recently acquired on eBay, form the core start of my Britains cavalry contingent.

Perhaps the most important thing about collecting toy soldiers, or anything else for that matter, is narrowing ones focus and stickling to just a few troop types or themes. For example, I saw a nice box of Skinner's Horse from India that looked lovely in their yellow tunics and carrying lances. However, if I bought them then eventually I'd have a hodge podge of many different troop types, but no overall connecting theme. So I resisted the temptation to purchase the figures and give someone else a crack at them. Funny thing about the Skinners Horse: they were priced at $125 and elicited not a single bid. So the seller relisted them, but guess what, he raised the price to $150 for the set. I will leave it to you to determine how delusional that seller must be.  

Part II: the Sudan Collection and the pending Toy Soldier Battle

Bill Protz read my previous thread about the Sudan collection and he posed the idea of actually having a wargame with the 54mm toy soldiers. Hmm, not a bad idea, thinks I. So let's do it. We plan to hold the first battle in the cellar of Schloss Seewald (doesn't the word "cellar" sound so much better than the "basement"?) in July. I reckon that we will have around 160 Dervish infantry and cavalry facing off against approximately 100 British foot and horse. I have a lot more British, but if I put them all on the game table it would look pretty, but it would not be a good game for the Dervish what with all of the British firepower.

After doing an initial inventory of available troops and finding that the British outnumbered the Dervish by about 180 British to 100 Dervish, I decided to start building up the forces of the Mahdi.

I have been able to find a few more Trophy of Wales figures to add to the Dervish, but alas, not enough of them are available on the market and the company is out of business so they won't be making any more figures. So, what to do?

My eye was attracted to the John Jenkins Designs and the Wm. Britain's War on the Nile ranges of figures. These are not painted in the traditional toy soldier style of glossy paint, but rather, they have a matte finish and the figures themselves look very realistic. I really like both figure ranges and so I started acquiring a few here and there from various toy soldier dealers on line.

At this time I think that I have enough Dervish to organize them into five infantry hoards of 24 figures each, give or take a few, and approximately 40 or so mounted figures (12 camels, 12 Britains Arabs of the Desert, and 16 horsemen. The final number will likely be higher since I found some sales on line and recently purchase, I think, another 4-6 camel troops for the Dervish.

The British Colonial army will look something like this:

Seaforth Highlanders (30 figures)

Camel Corps (17) + Sussex Regt. (13) = 30 figures
The Madras Regiment (25 figures)

2 x Maxim Machine Guns

12 converged camelry (Camel Corps - 6 and Bikkaner Camel Corps - 6)
22 x 21st Lancers

I think that this would be a fair proportion of Dervish vs. Imperials for use in a game of The Sword and the Flame using 54mm toy soldiers. I am very excited by the prospect of this pending battle.

Nile river boat from Britains for my Sudan collection.
And finally, I made a really cool purchase this evening, finding a Britains Nile River Boat as shown in the picture above.

Friday, June 3, 2016

The AWI Hessians Have Arrived!

The first shipment of AWI Hessian musketeers and grenadiers are scheduled to arrive from Griffin Moulds today, Friday June 3rd.

I am certain to get some samples black washed and photographed over the weekend to display on this blog. I might even be able to get several samples painted and photographed.

Next week, I will have part numbers assigned to each figure and will add them to the Fife & Drum web site so that they can be ordered on line.

Kickstarter backers who chose Hessians as their primary reward will get their figures shipped first. After that, those backers who are eligible for the free Hessians will have their figures mailed. After that, I can start selling them to the general public, probably around the first or second week of July.


Mrs Fritz and I are going on a vacation for two weeks and during that period Minden and Fife & Drum will not be accepting, processing or mailing any orders. This is our first vacation without kids in tow since our daughter was born, so it is well deserved. Mrs. Fritz will box my ears if I do anything remotely connected with wargaming or miniatures. So please don't send me orders during the hiatus or send me frantic emails about why I am not responding to your correspondence.

I will accept orders for figures up through Thursday June 9th, but after that, it will be at least two weeks after that before I can open for business again.

Bruno Hightower, our regular house-pet sitter and former NFL lineman will be guarding Schloss Seewald during our hiatus and he has advised me that he will not be picking up the phone either.