Sunday, December 31, 2023

Timpo ACW Union Army Reinforcements


54mm Timpo plastic toy soldiers. These are "recasts" of the original figures.

I found a source for Timpo 54mm toy soldier size (1/32 scale) figures to add to my Union American Civil War forces. Timpo has been out of business for ages and someone(s) have recast new plastic figures off of the original toy soldier figures. I am assuming that there are no copyright issues with the figures. One can find plenty of Marx recasts on the open market too.

The figures are a little bit rough on the heads and the thicknesses of the muskets since the moulds were likely made from some of the original plastic figures. I didn't want to spend the time trying to clean up the mould lines on the plastic figures as it's just not worth the additional time and effort. Besides, en masse, the figures look good once they are painted and based. 

Here are some more pictures of the Timpo figures. I have also found a few Harold recasts (soldier with trumpet and officer pointing his sword) that I painted and added to the regiment. Timpo didn't make any officer or command figures, save perhaps with the soldier aiming his pistol. So I will have to use figures from other plastic ranges for my officers and flag bearers. I did find a set of four Herald ACW figures (officer pointing sword and holding a pistol, trumpeter, soldier standing firing and "leaning into" the shot, and one soldier advancing with his musket held pointing forward at a 45-degree angle. To my mind, I think that the Herald-Britains plastic figures were some of the best toy soldier figures that were ever made, particularly in it Civil War figure range.

Timpo figures in the front. Notice the old Herald Union trumpeter and officer with pistol and sword.
These are likely recasts as well, although the originals can still be found on eBay from time to time.

Timpo figures in the front unit and CTS figures in the second line of Union figures.

The Timpo poses are limited to the following: rifleman standing and firing; soldier with one foot on a rock; officer shooting his revolver; and soldier lunging forward with his bayonet. The lunging pose is rather useless so my Union regiment consists largely of the standing firing and foot on a rock poses with a couple of the firing pistol figures thrown in. The firing pistol figure could be converted into a flag bearer by cutting off the pistol and then drilling a hole throw that hand so that it can hold a flag pole.

I used to have a lot of Timpo ACW plastic figures when I was a young lad and so it was a bit of a thrill to be able to find enough of the figures to build up a 30-figure regiment.

Post Script

This will be my last blog post of 2023, bringing my total posts up to 80 for the full year. My goal each year is to have at least 100 blog posts, but this year I fell short of my goal by 20 posts. In some years I add a number of "fluff posts" to pad the final number, but making up ground on 20 posts was too much to take on, so I resigned myself to the idea that I would not hit the 100 post goal this year.

On the other hand, early in 2023 I passed the 2 million page views milestone! I don't recall when that actually happened or else I would have devoted a post to the achievement of the 2 million views accomplishment. I am honored that so many viewers have taken a peek at my blog over the years.

Saturday, December 30, 2023

A Little More Table Space Couldn't Do Us Any Harm


The new 2.5ft by 12ft back (or side) table expands the depth of 
my 54mm ACW game table.

The other day I decided that my ACW game table needed more depth, so I set up another parallel table. The table layout consists of (from left to right) a 5ft wide by 12ft long back table; a 6ft wide by 12ft long center or main table, and the new 2.5ft by 12ft back table. The center table has 3ft wide aisles separating the parallel table. In practice, the aisles do not exist. When you move your unit up to the table edge you simply hop on over the other side without any movement penalty. So the entire game table is actually 13.5ft wide by 12ft long.

The view from the far back table looking out at the center table and
the new 2.5x12ft side table.

Ground level view, of sorts, looking from the new back table across the
game room towards the center table and back table. At ground level one can 
barely make out the gap between these tables.

In a pinch I could probably make the new side table 5ft wide rather than 2.5ft wide, but it would put a crimp into the amount of area available for walking around and between the various game tables. It's not something that I want to set up permanently, but I could see doing it for a game specific event. This has all been done to accommodate the large 54mm toy soldier size figures. Now imagine what I could do if I scaled the terrain down for 28mm figures. There would be no shortage of maneuvering space and open flank areas on the table.

The set up having a center table and two parallel side tables is done to provide depth to the battlefield. Rather than lining up my 54mm ACW figures from table end to end, the extra depth enables me to either (1) start the opposing forces further apart from each other, or (2) add a supporting second line of infantry regiments in the game - this creates more area for maneuvering on the center table.

For my Pickett's Charge game at Little Wars and Historicon conventions in 2024, the Confederate army will deploy in line on one of the back (side) tables representing Seminary Ridge/Warfield Ridge. Their artillery will deploy on the higher elevation while the infantry advance across the center table towards Cemetary Ridge. The center table is where most of the action will take place. Pickett's Confederates will cross the open ground and advance toward the Emmitburg Road. The Emmitsburg Road will run diagonally across the center table as it is furthest from the Union line on the south edge of the table and gradually come closer to Cemetery Ridge where the road hits the north edge of the table. The further back table is where I will place Cemetery Ridge where the Union army will deploy. There will be some dead ground behind the ridge where I will set up Meade's HQ, reserve infantry and some reserve artillery units.

Painting Update

As of today I have completed 11 Union and 12 Confederate regiments of 30 figures each. This brings the total up to 690 figures painted since the beginning of August 2023. I have not included any of the mounted command figures or the artillery crewmen that I have painted during this period, but my guess is that we are talking about 20+ figures at most. So suffice it to say, I have painted over 700 figures for my Pickett's Charge Project.

I will need 4 more Union and 3 more Confederate regiments (7 units x 30 figures = 210 figures) to complete the infantry component of my game forces. That is to say that I have painted approximately 75% of the figures that I will need for the game. The organization breaks down into 5 brigade commands per side and one artillery brigade command per side. I am considering adding one more infantry brigade per side to give me 6 brigades per side, or 12 players in the game. However, I am not sure that the size of my eventual convention game table(s) will provide sufficient frontage to accommodate the additional figures.

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Setting up the Christmas Feast Table

The Dining Room table in our house is ready for Christmas dinner.

Our Dining Room table is all set up for ten guests.

Two days ago I was inspired to clear off the dining room table, fit in some spare table leafs, and break out the good china and silverware for our Christmas Day dinner. We have 16 guests and the main table comfortably seats 10 people, although we could probably squeeze in an extra body or two. This means that we will have to use a second table (the Kiddie Table?) to seat the other 6 guests.

The dining room is another one of those rooms that see very little use other than on holidays. I keep telling Herself that this would make a great wargame room, but I get sent to bed without any dinner anytime I bring up the idea. So instead, the table serves as a catchall for the daily clutter of life: coats, laundry waiting to be folded, the mail, the newspaper, and all manner of other stuff. 

I keep telling Herself that my wargame table would look more neat, tidy and in order compared to the use of the room as a dump off point. My argument falls on deaf ears, alas!

Having the dining table already set up lends an air to the feeling of Christmas in our house. We put up and decorated our two Christmas trees the day after Thanksgiving and have been playing Christmas tunes in the background. I don't like Wham! or Maria hCary. I'd rather hear "Good King Wenceslas", "The Holly and the Ivy", "Silent Night", etc. You know, the more traditional music. All I want for Christmas is to not hear Wham or Mariah.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of my blog readers.


Thursday, December 21, 2023

The Dreaded Room That Is Never Used


The Room That Is Never Used: our Living Room

If you are the owner of an older house, say, one built before 2000, then you probably have a large amount of square footage devoted to a room in the house that you hardly ever use. It is called "The Living Room."

Its successor is something that we now call "The Family Room." If the house has an open floor plan on the first floor, i.e. the kitchen and The Family Room are one open space, then the room is sometimes known as "The Great Room."

Someone mentioned that all the room was missing was a dog (s) laying on the floor in the room.
I added Angie (black Lab) and Bella (Golden Retriever) to the scene.

Nowadays home builders do not have Living Rooms in their houses, but rather, they opt for the open designed Great Room. Great Rooms are fine, but the noise from the kitchen (also known as "The Room Where Everyone Congregates When You Are Having A Party".) is one of the negative points of this concept.

Our house has the Living Room, Family Room, Kitchen, Dining Room, Entry Hall and Den. We probably spend most of our time in the Family Room because that is where we have placed the only functioning television in our home. 

And That Other Room Too

The Dining Room is also a room that is rarely used, save for a place to put things, The Dining Room table is a clutter magnet - all sorts of stuff and paraphernalia wind up on the table. Around the time of the Christmas holiday, the large dining room table is employed as a gift wrapping space due to the its size. Sometimes the dining room table does service as a war game table when my daughter and I play our Teddy Bear Wars game. We only use the room for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I have noticed that some newly built houses have also dispensed with the Dining Room as all of the ground floor square footage is devoted to that Great Room culprit.

Back To Main Point

So I have strayed away from the whole point of this post, which is to highlight the Living Room as a place that is comfortable and needs to be used more often.

Last night we decided to forgo any watching of television and instead park our butts in the Living Room next to the fireplace. Herself worked on some crossword puzzles from the Wall Street Journal, while I immersed myself into Dan Sickles and the fight for the Peach Orchard at Gettysburg. In the end, everything gets back to Dan Sickles, don't you know?

Herself and I both commented on how nice it was to sit in The Room That Is Never Used (TRTINU") and just read and talk to each other and that we should do this more often. We say that every time we use the TRTINU and then never follow up on it. There doesn't seem to be very much to watch on television. We cut the cable cord recently and now use various streaming services. This has had the effect of us watching less television unless it is the News or some movie/series on Netflix.

The yellow sofa shown in the pictures above is one of the most comfortable sofas that I have ever tried. So that makes it a good place to take my afternoon nap. It is even better after we turn the clocks back to standard time because the daylight recedes into early darkness that makes it easier to nap.

I have ramble on long enough. On a long and cold winter's night, and with the fireplace stoked with a load of wood, TRTINU is the best place to be.


Saturday, December 9, 2023

Mindens at Mollwitz


Converged Austrian grenadier battalion marches under the 
watchful eye of their general.

I thought that I would post a few pictures of my Seven Years War collection of 1/56 scale Minden Miniatures Austrians and Prussians. The pictures were taken at my Mollwitz game at the 2023 SYW Assn. Convention.

I have been working on painting some samples of the new Minden SYW Russian cuirassiers that were recently added to the range. However, I am finding it difficult to adjust to painting 28mm figures after painting nothing but 54mm figures over the past 18 months. I will just have to power through the mental difficulties and break through the wall. My painting skill will hopefully return soon.

Austrian army advances on to the battlefield.

The Prussians are on the move too.

A grand cavalry melee is the epitome of fighting in the Seven Years War.


Thursday, December 7, 2023

Christmas Game Pix, Must see!


A view of my Austrian brigade in the foreground, looking across the field
at the Anglo-Franco army and players. Note the use of three tables.

On Saturday December 2, 2023 our group of 11 players convened to play our annual Christmas war game. We usually hold the game on the first weekend of December so that holiday plans don't get in the way of having the game. We had players traveling from Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois for the game. Our host, Kieth L., provided the venue and plenty of drinks, snacks and a mid-day lunch. Kieth's wonderful wife, Donna, made two different types of chili and backed lots of tasty treats such as corn bread, brownies, cookies and lemon bars. Thank you Kieth and Donna for your hospitality.

The Band of Brothers gather for a post-game picture. That's me in the red hoodie.

The Game Parameters 

The rules; We used Bill Protz's Batailles dans l'Ancien Regime (or BAR for short) which are designed for easy and quick games with lots and lots of figures. We have been playing games with these rules since about 2010 so most of the players were well-familiar with the rules.

The figures: We played with big battalions and cavalry regiments of 60 figures, or a ratio of 1:10 man to figures. The figures were largely 30mm Stadden, Suren, Elite, Potsdam and some large 28mm figures such as Front Rank. There were probably even a few Minifigs sneaking into the ranks.

Table size: We played on a game table sized  at three tables measuring 6ft wide by 32ft long with aisles in between the table. The aisles don't exist in terms of table top space, but rather, when a unit approaches the edge of one table, it hops over the aisle and continues its normal movement on the next table. This provides us with a game table that is actually 18ft wide by 32ft long. And trust me, we needed every inch/foot of these tables for the game.

Game Management: We divided the table into three zones (right, center and left) and each sector had its own deck of cards for initiative card draws. This way, one section of the table didn't have to wait for other sections of the table to finish their turn before moving on to the next turn. This speeded up the game.

The game opponents: The game was an unhistorical alliance of the French and British versus the central European powers of Austria and Prussia. The main victory condition was the control of a large town placed in the middle of the battlefield. Sadly, for my team, the French captured the town on Turn 3 and never yielded ground for the rest of the game. As a result, the game ended in a French victory.

The right flank of the Austro-Prussian battle line. The Prussians placed a 
ridiculous number of cannon on top of a ridge, forcing the French to avoid 
the area and attack the woods. Unbeknownst to the French, most of the 
Prussian guns only had one or two rounds of ammunition.

A huge Prussian cavalry brigade in reserve behind the daunting ridge line
of Prussian artillery.

The town in the center of the table was the main objective of both armies.

The central table zone, looking at the Austrian forces.

The British army facing the Austro-Prussian left flank.

The Fritz Bits

Yours truly was assigned a brigade of 4 Austrian musketeer regiments, 1 Croat light infantry regiment, 2 Austrian cuirassier regiments, and a couple of 12-pound cannon. I was posted on the far left flank of the Austro-Prussian army (in my own playing zone), with two Austrian brigades to my right in the center zone of the table. The Prussian army held down the right flank and deployed behind a sizable ridge with their infantry and powerful cavalry contingent.

My opponent, directly across from me, was the powerful British army with 7 regiments of infantry (including one guard and one grenadier regiment) and two smaller 36-figure cavalry regiments of Horse. Counting noses, it was readily apparent that the British outnumbered my infantry 7 to 5 while I had the slight edge in cavalry (96 Austrian cavalry versus 72 British cavalry). Knowing that infantry are more significant and powerful than cavalry in our BAR rules (Batailles dans l'Ancien Regime), I knew that I had my work cut out for me.

There were two enclosures placed on the middle of the table, between my brigade and that of my British opponent. The lefthand enclosure was close enough to the table edge to restrict movement; then there was some open ground in the center, and finally, there was another enclosure and farmhouse on the my front right. I reasoned that if I could advance to the edge of the two enclosures I stood a good chance of forcing the British army to attack through the bottleneck of the open middle ground. Thus, the British would not be able to take advantage of their superior numbers of infantry. I placed three of my musketeer battalions and the Croat light infantry on my front line, and deployed my fourth musketeer line behind the front to provide a support reserve force. My cuirassiers were placed behind the main battle line where they might be able to take advantage of any worn down British infantry regiments to their front.

Let the Game Begin

Given that we were playing on a 32ft long table, it was nearly impossible to have any idea of what was going on at the far end of the table. As a matter of fact, I wasn't able to pay much attention to the goings on in the middle zone of the table. I had my hands full in my zone. Who needs a fog of war rule in this situation?

My Austrian battle line deploys and advances towards the enclosure on my right.
Note my Austrian cuirassiers held in reserve.

My Croats lead the advance of my brigade (in columns) to the enclosure.

A view of the left flank of my brigade. The British have gained control of the
lefthand enclosure and advance in line in the center.

My Austrian musketeers face off against the Highland Black Watch regiment.
Note the small gap along the table edge which restricted the movement of
the British cavalry.

My cavalry brigade outnumbers the British cavalry by a large amount, so
it is time for my Austrians to charge.
Cavalry melee in my sector. Austrian cuirassiers on the right and British Horse regiment
 (The Blues) on the left. The game was declared over at this 
time, but my opponent and I played out the cavalry melee. The Austrian cuirassiers prevailed.

The End Result in my Sector

I was able to hold off the advance of the British infantry in my sector. I had one of my musketeer battalions rout due to their accumulated losses. One of my other regiments was pretty well shot up, but hadn't reached the magic 50% casualties number  and thus didn't have to check morale (yet). I recall that at least two British regiments routed and a couple more were severely shot up. Somehow the stalwart Highlanders were able to pass their morale despite losing nearly 2/3rds of their numbers.

Some pictures of the action elsewhere

As I said earlier, I wasn't able to follow the action in the center and right game zones, but from time to time I took a stroll over there and snapped a couple of pictures. Of note, Randy F. sent his French light cavalry into the important town on the first or second turn and held the town for the rest of the game, thus meeting the victory condition for the French army. Well done Randy; that was a great tactic; very clever use of light cavalry.

Bill Protz lords over the French army of his left flank. The cavalry reserve of both sides
was not engaged in the battle due to the preponderance of infantry on the field.

Randy F. is very happy about capturing the town early in the game.

Game action on the center game table.

The overall result: a French victory

Austrian-Prussian right flank: the French bypassed the 13-gun battery of Prussian artillery and pushed their way through the woods at the end of the table. The French were starting to effect a break through when the game was called and it looked like the French would successfully press their advantage had the game continued.

Austrians in the center zone: The French captured the important town, and thus won the game through the victory condition of holding the town at the end of the game. Other than that, the infantry on both sides appeared to be fighting at a stalemate.

Austrians on the left flank: my Austrians appeared to have stopped the British attack.

All in all, this was a very fun game to play. We hadn't attempted to play a game of this size since 2019, the year before the Covid shutdown so it was great to be able to toss lots of dice and move big battalions across the battle table top. And finally, it was great to see many old friends whom I had not seen in about three years.

Thanks again to Kieth and Donna L. for hosting the game, and thanks to Bill Protz for taking the initiative to organize the game, recruit the players, and create fun game scenario.

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Minden Painted Hanoverian Musketeers


I was scrolling through some of my pictures of painted Minden figures and found these two photos of some Minden  Hanoverian musketeers. The figures were painted by Michael S. from Germany on commission for another collector. I think that they are from the Hardenberg regiment.

I don’t have armies for the Seven Years War in western Germany, but seeing these beauties does make it tempting to start Hanoverian and French armies.

Friday, December 1, 2023

Annual Christmas SYW Game Tomorrow


The Austrian form their battle line. This is a picture of my command,
 from the table edge to the wooded area on the table.

Click on pictures to enlarge

Our gaming group usually holds a large Big Battalion SYW game in early December of each year. We call it our Christmas War Game. This year it's a battle of the nations with Austrians, British, French and Prussians attending the ball, playing across three 6ft by 30ft tables. However, the most shocking aspect of the game is that the French and British are allies fighting the alliance of Austria and Prussia. (I didn't set up the ground rules here :) ).

Kieth L. is our host and he has graciously given us free run over the table in his large basement. We have players coming in from Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana.

Der Alte Fritz is even changing sides and will command a brigade of Austrian infantry and cuirassiers. The world is indeed turned upside down!

Here are a few pictures of the battlefield with the troops already in their assigned positions:

The British starting point on one of the Left Table.
French forces are also located on this table.

A view of the Middle Table

A view of the Right Table
(Austrians and Prussians)

A mass of the Prussian heavy cavalry comprised of 
cuirassiers and dragoons.

Here is the objective that the armies are fighting for:

Some Ian Weekley buildings form a village at the crossroads
in the center of the table.

Another view of the village. Hopefully the civilians have the good sense
to hit the road and get out of Dodge City.

We will be using Bill Protz's rules, Batailles dans l'Ancien Regime" (or B.A.R. for short). We use the BAR rules for most of our games (SYW, Napoleonic, British Colonial eras) so most of the players are already familiar with the rules, which should speed up the pace of the game.

I will be posting pictures of the game over the next several days, so come on back and see all of the Fritz Pix.