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.


  1. It has been an interesting year indeed Jim...
    I am glad to see that you have been weathering the storm...
    Here’s to calmer waters ahead...

    A Happy and Prosperous New yer to you and yours...

    All the best. Aly

  2. Happy New Year, Jim! Glad the three of you and hounds (retrievers are such wonderful dogs) seem to weathering all of this pretty well. The sooner 2020 is in the rear view mirror, the better. Onward and upward for 2021.

    Best Regards,


  3. I'll be glad to see the back of 2020, for sure!

  4. Happy New Year! It will be better than the last one, I am sure!

  5. Happy New Year!
    Dogs make everything better!

  6. Happy New Year, Jim. Hopefully, 2021 will be as good as 2020 was a stinker. Or better.

    Stay safe


  7. Happy New Year, Jim, to you and your family, and to all the readers of this Journal. Thankyou for your positive summary of 2020, though also will be glad of its passing. Congratulations on the >100 milestone, and also thanks for the "tease" about new figures.

    Love the hat!! Cheers, Rohan.

  8. Oh, Excellent article in the "Wargamers' Annual" too.

  9. A very Happy New Year to you and the entire clan Jim.

  10. Much appreciation for your most entertaining blog and happy New Year to you!


  11. quite some accomplishments - was loosely following the Mahdist project, but thought it was more "modest" than 500 figs! Would love to hear how you clean and prep the figs which look a lot like my AIP figures.

    Hope 2021 is a great year for you.

    Tidders is great!


    1. Hi Alex, I’m using AIP plastic figures. I just give them a quick bath in water or common rubbing alcohol and then spray prime them just like I would do with metal figures. After painting the figures, I give them a double spritz of gloss coat. I mount them on a wood Litko base that is a bit wider than normal so that a player can grab the figure by the base, which minimizes handling.

    2. so you don't trim the flash off? Does the gloss coating help hide it?

    3. If there was any flash then I’d carve it off. I often cut off spears and swords and replace them with wire weapons.

  12. Best wishes for the new year Jim. Enjoyed your Khartoum project very much

    1. Thank you Stuart. I’ve been mulling over a 54mm Punic Wars project for 2021, or maybe some Zulus.

  13. Happy New Year Jim, like you the VWC has been a lifeline. It's been nice to see how productive you have been as well. The Khartoum project has been impressive and on a scale I simply wouldn't tackle. All the best.