Monday, January 31, 2022

Picture of the Week: LaSalle In Spain


This week’s picture features a diorama that I set up in 2013. It depicts a column of French light cavalry and light infantry in Spain marching under the gaze of General LaSalle.

The figures are a variety including Elite Miniatures ( chasseurs a cheval), Old Glory light infantry and an assortment of civilians from Perry Miniatures. The buildings were scratch built by Herb Gundt.

After looking at these pictures it makes me want to haul the collection out of storage and set up a Peninsula game or two.

Friday, January 28, 2022

They Certainly Have A Lot of Gaul


Yesterday I finished the painting of 8 more HaT Gallic Cavalry figures, adding to the 4 figures that I painted about a month ago, thus bringing the  unit up to its designed 12 figure unit of cavalry.

I have 36 more Gauls to paint in order to complete the unit at 48 figures. They will become part of Hannibal's Carthaginian army in Italy. My Carthaginian cavalry contingent will be comprised of Numidian light horsemen and heavier Gallic cavalry. I also have a small contingent of 12 Carthaginian heavy cavalry that will fill out the overall Carthaginian and Allies combat arm.

In many of Hannibal's battles in Italia he had a numerical cavalry advantage over the Roman armies whilst the Romans usually had more foot soldiers. That should create some interesting differences in the armies of the two mortal foes.

The cavalry figures will be based two per stand (90mm frontage and a depth of 90-110mm). I don't want to mess around with having individual figures romping around the table top on movement trays.

As is the case with most 54mm (1/32 scale) HaT Industrie figures, they are easy to paint and are fun to paint. The Gauls (or Celts) should have an irregular unformed appearance so I try to plan things out so that each figure has its own unique uniform, representing the individualistic nature of the Gallic warriors. Uniform inspiration is found on Pinterest and there seems to be an unending variety of images for Gallic infantry and cavalry. In a future blog post I will elaborate on how I tackle all of the different plaid patterns that go on each figure.

Next Up: another 32-figure Celtic war band .

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Picture of the Week: Croebern Diarama


I found this picture of the massed Austrian cuirassier brigade at Croebern in 1813. The battle was a part of the greater Battle of Leipzig. The figures are all 1/72 scale, or 20mm. The buildings and terrain were hand made by the diorama modelers in Germany.

This is one of the most magnificent pictures of Wargame figures that I’ve ever seen. The picture looks so lifelike.

Monday, January 24, 2022

Thank You Robbie Gould


The San Francisco 49ers eliminated the Green Bay Packers from the NFL playoffs with a 13-10 victory. Robbie Gould (an ex-Chicago Bears kicker) kicked the game winning field goal as time expired. Thank you Robbie. We don’t have to see anymore of Aaron Rodgers this year.

Revenge is a dish best served cold.

Friday, January 21, 2022

Picture of the Week -Dhows on the Nile


This week’s picture ( I’m changing this concept’s name from Picture of the Day to that of the Week since that is the frequency with which I will post favorite pictures going forward) comes from a game in February 2019 that was played at General Pettygree’s Barracks. It was a 28mm Sudan colonial era game. The Dervish were attacking a British-Egyptian fortified town (sound familiar?) and out of nowhere appeared a fleet of dhows that were packed full of Dervish warriors. This picture reminds me of a scene from the movie “Khartoum “ and is a photo that I’ve always liked. It is well composed with a nice background free of clutter.

The boats were made by Chuck the Lucky and they really look the part.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Roman Legions On Parade


A unit of Republican Roman Triarii figures from John Jenkins Designs. 
Scipio Africanus can be seen in the back row, on horseback.

Last week I cleared the Carthaginian army off of my game table because I decided that it was time to give the Romans some equal time on my blog. So this post is an update on the progress that I have been making with the painting of my 54mm Republican Roman army.

My Roman army will be divided into several legions (legio), each comprised of 12 Velite skirmishers, 32 Hastati, 32 Princeps, and 24 to 32 Triarii. The quality of the troops improves from the front (Hastati) to the back (Triarii). The Hastati are lightly armored with just a pectoral plate on their chest and one greave on the left shin. The Princeps generally wore chain mail and were considered to be veterans with more experience than the younger Velites and Hastati. Finally, the Triarii formed the third line of the legion in battle formation. The Triarii were the older and most experienced soldiers in the legio.

Two Roman Legiones or Legionibus in battle formation.
Velites at the front, followed by Hastati in white tunics, then in the second row are the Princeps in red tunics,
and Triarii in the  third row.

The above picture depicts two Roman legiones: red shield on the left and yellow shield on the right. The John Jenkins Designs Roman Triarii are stand-ins for the yet-to-be-painted yellow shield Triarii. Each Roman player in my game will command one legion.

My initial plan was to have two legiones so as to have sufficient room on the flanks for cavalry and general movement. However, I now plan on adding a third legio with green shields. As long as the legiones are deployed in three row there will be sufficient room on my 12-feet long game table to deploy the infantry and cavalry without having "edge of the world" secured flanks.

Isn't this how it usually goes? You plan on a moderate sized army, but once you start collecting the figures and painting them, you feel a need to make the army bigger. Three Roman legiones is enough. No, I really mean that.

I find that setting up the painted/completed units on my game table keeps my painting mojo going. Over the course of several weeks and months I can see the growth in the army. I can also see what still needs to be painted in order to finish the army.

Here is a picture of the various Roman units deployed in the checkerboard formation, representing maniples or cohorts.

I generally paint the cavalry in my armies last. I don't know why, I just do it that way. I think that I like to see how the main component of the army (the infantry) is growing, while cavalry can be a pain in the neck to paint.

Some HaT Italian Allies cavalry serving with the Roman army.
I found these on eBay and plan to touch them up with paint and
give them a first class, fully terrained base.

Here is a picture of the Roman cavalry contingent on the left flank.
Italian allies on the left and Romans on the right.

Overhead view of the Roman army as of today.

Here is a picture of the red shield Triarii that I finished last week. The two movement trays in the front row were  painted awhile ago. Then I discovered that the Triarii figures are out of stock and additional figures are as hard as hen's teeth to find. I hit the jackpot on eBay when I found the 16 additional figures that I needed to bring the legio up to 32 figures. I also acquired enough Triarii figures from another collector to add a 32-figure yellow shield Triarii unit. I am working on this unit right now and hope to have it completed next week.

Roman legiones of the red shield legio. These are HaT figures.

Next in the painting queue are another dozen Velites skirmishers for the yellow shield legio. And then maybe I will be in the right frame of mind to tackle the Roman cavalry.


Thursday, January 13, 2022

Picture of the Day - Grand Battery


The picture of the day depicts a Prussian artillery battery during the Seven Years War. Most of the figures and artillery pieces are from the Minden Miniatures and the Fife and Drum artillery equipment. The limbers are from Berliner Zinnfiguren and a wagon is from Front Rank. It is impressive to say the least when it all comes together like this.

Saturday, January 8, 2022

Have You Made Plans To Dispose of Your Collection After Your Passing?


I am not dead yet!

Today at the Virtual Wargames Club  ("VWC") meeting on Zoom, I posed the question on the matter of what happens to all of our war gaming figures and books and terrains after we die. Have any of us made plans for how our family will dispose of our collection?

I haven't, at least not in a direct way. I've told my nephew that it is all his when I leave this mortal coil but I have not written down any specific instructions on what to do with the large mass of wargaming impedimenta that I own.

War Game Figures

One of the fellows in the VWC said that he has appointed an executor to dispose of his war gaming things. This sounds like a good idea and something that I plan on doing. I would give my spouse a list of general instructions on what to do and identify the items that have significant monetary value, such as certain books or terrain pieces. I would also give her a list of people to contact to help her sell off as much as she can, albeit at pennies on the dollar, I would imagine. Maybe some of my war game armies would be given to certain people who have an interest in a particular army. Other armies would be sold at a deep discount or simply given away to one of the companies that sells used war gaming figures.

My 54mm Sudan collection.

I think that most of us have an unrealistic and inflated value that we assign to our war game figures. What is important to us probably gets a "meh" from the majority of people. Unless your wives, sons, daughters and nephews are war gamers, they probably assign nothing more than some sentimental value to our figures. They are not going to want to keep my collection so they should try to monetize it as best they can. To think otherwise is not realistic.

A list of passwords to my various sites is also on my to do list.


Another VWC member indicated that he had some experience with disposing the books of one of his friends. He found that in general there is very little value in the books that we have all collected over the years. Public libraries and non-profit groups like church rummage sales or Goodwill stores have no interest in our books. They are probably trying to dispose of their own books too. Many books end up going into the garbage can and taking up permanent residence in the land fill or waste furnace.

I should make a list of which books I think has some value to them so that my survivors don't just throw them away. For example, my folio of the complete set of Menzel picture plates has a value that exceeds $1,000 so I would want my spouse to be aware of this. One of my Robert Griffing books about his American Indian drawings is out of print and goes for around $500 on the used book market. There are a few other books in my library that fall in this category.

Let's face it, most of our more valuable books would probably sell for $10 if we were lucky enough to find a buyer.

Disposing Your Goods Before You Pass Away

Another idea is to cull your collection down to a smaller number of historical periods the older you get. You know the current market value of your figures and you probably have a good idea of where to sell them. In other words, do the disposal work yourself before you die (there, I've said that word - "die or death"). 

I think about the categories of historical periods in my collection and ask myself which one period would I keep if The Supreme Being told me to get rid of everything but one period. Peter Young would approve of this.

I own 28mm Late Romans & Barbarians; 28mm RSM French, 30mm Staddens and Surens for my Big Battalion games, 30mm Napoleonic British, Prussian, Russian and French figures on single bases that I use for Big Battalion games; my own Minden SYW Prussians, Austrians and Russians; my Fife and Drum AWI collection; 54mm Sudan; and now 54mm Punic Wars.

My Late Romans probably would not make the cut.

I would ask myself, "when was the last time that you had a game with a particular collection of figures"? This question led to me selling my 28mm ACW and 28mm Napoleonic collections back in 2010. I plowed the proceeds into my Fife and Drum Miniatures business. And then for some crazy reason I started a new 28mm Napoleonic collection for Big Battalion (60 to 72 figure battalions) war game. Go figure.

My Minden SYW collection - the obvious winner.

If I had to give my answer to The Supreme Being right this instance, then I would probably have to choose my Minden Austrians, Prussians and Russians and sell off everything else. That would be a hard decision to make, but it is likely something that I will have to consider as I age into my 70s or beyond.

There are some hard choices ahead for me. I don't have to make them right now, but now that I am 69 years of age, it might be time to start thinking about these things.

What do you think?

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Elastolin 40mm Prince Valiant Figures


(L-R on foot) Sir Gwaine, Prince Valiant, Wilhelm, and Oscar.
Two mounted Norman knights. Elastolin 40mm figures.

I must have been about ten years old when my parents gave me the most wonderful Christmas present that I could imagine. It was an Elastolin castle made out of a composition of sawdust and glue and rather garishly painted. 

Elastolin composition toy castle

All of the castle components fit inside the base of the model (when it is turned upside down), which measures 14 1/2" by 18" and 4" in height. The individual pieces have thin spikes or nails that fit into a corresponding hole in the base of the castle. The most intriguing piece is the gate tower with a metal drawbridge that you can raise or lower with a chain. The drawbridge rests on a ramp that measures 15" long and 3 1/2" wide (and 4" height at its apex).

A few years ago I was able to purchase the castle on eBay, having long lost the one that I owned in my boyhood days. I also picked up a few of the figures at one of the toy soldier shows in Chicago. So I am slowly replacing all of the lost warriors as well.

For many years I used the castle as the headquarters for my 54mm William Britain's Grenadier Guards. However, the castle also came with an assortment of 40mm hard plastic warriors from Elastolin that depicted some of the characters from the Prince Valiant comic strip. The figures looked like Saxons circa 900AD to 1066AD and they were largely clad in cloth tunics, metal helmets and round wooden shields. There were also some mounted Norman knights and a few foot Norman warriors.

Illustration from the original Prince Valiant comic strip.

The rest of the Saxon gang.

Here are some pictures of the mounted cavalry from an old Elastolin catalogue.

The Norman cavalry

I used to own all of these figures, but lost them or gave them away back in my college days when I lost interest in playing with toy soldiers. I wish that I had kept them. The cavalry figures are quite dynamic in their poses and the horses look like they are in motion at all times. The rearing horse is not my favorite pose, but it looks spectacular, if not particularly useful for war gaming purposes.

Here is a snap of the Elastolin catalogue page for the foot figures.

The 40mm Saxons and Normans.

The figures had removable weapons consisting of swords, battle axes, spears and lances so you could make two similar poses look different by changing out the weapons. One of the things that I like about the Elastolin figures is that their proportions and sizes look realistic and natural. You know how I feel about such matters.

I don't have any particular plans for building large armies of Elastolin figures and playing war games with them. The cost of acquiring the figures would be prohibitive what with foot figures going for $15 to $40 dollars. The Norman cavalry are difficult to find and when you can find them, expect to pay collectors prices.

Perhaps the coolest items in the Elastolin range were the assortments of siege equipment that included assault towers, trebuchets, catapults and mantles. I had a catapult and mantle, but the tower and trebuchet were out of my budget as a ten year old. I dreamed of having these pieces one day.

40mm Siege Tower and Trebuchet

Over the top  and over the walls!

Siege Tower with climbing figures.

I wonder how many other war gamers got their start on Elastolin figures and how many of them still have them in their collections?

If you have any of the 40mm figures and you would like to get rid of them, then Bob's your uncle and contact me if you are interested.


Sunday, January 2, 2022

Picture of the Day - Seven Years War Vignette


My iPhotos Ap selects random pictures from my photo library and posts them on my home page. So in 2022 I plan on posting what I consider the “better ones” on this blog.This is a vignette of Field Marshall Schwerin gathering information somewhere in Silesia .

The buildings where made by Herb Gundt and the figures are from an assortment of brands including Minden, RSM, Front Rank and Stadden.