Sunday 25 November 2018

The Spanish Project Kicks off in Earnest!

In the early years of the 20thCentury its was thought human race had been saved by a medicinal compound invented by a lady called Lily the Pink. The story is captured in the words of a 1968 song that opens:

We’ll drink a drink a drink,
To Lily the Pink the Pink the Pink
The saviour of the human race
For she invented medicinal compound
Most efficacious in every case…

Supposedly a notorious raunchy version of this tune had existed in the music halls around the time of the Great War.

A little bit of searching on the web sadly showed me that the story on which the song was based was one of quackery. This is probably why the human race has been on its downward slide for some time. But in these early years of the 21st Century there is fresh hope. A new compound has been discovered.

An alchemist called Aly Morrison has created “Aly’s Brown Liquid”. This is special blend of three and a bit ingredients (not to be confused with that other brew of 11 herbs and spices – the thought of which still turns my stomach from when I ate a bad batch of the stuff after playing an indoor cricket game in the winter of 1991 and haven’t touched it since). Fortunately for us the formula for this magical brew has not been kept secret like that of a certain brand of cola – although oddly the colour of Aly’s Brown Liquid and a glass of that sugary elixir look alarmingly similar - and can be found here.

I had been intending to mix a brew for experimentation for quite some time, but never had the right ingredients on hand. Last Saturday, when I topped up my GW paint supplies, gave me the opportunity to get those ingredients and set to brewing the stuff – which took all of a few seconds.

My first attempt to use this magical brew has been a roaring success. On the white coats of the Spanish infantry from Second Battalion of the Toledo Regiment below (whose flags are somewhere between Spain and New Zealand), it provided a much more subtle shading than I had been using.

On the yellow coats of the Numancia Dragoons (also awaiting thier standard) it also did its magic.

The white shirts and trousers of the gunners in this second gun set similarly benefitted from the application of the brew.

All of this is wonderful since white and yellow are the two colours I dislike working with the most and are the most common in the Spanish army.

I am now convinced that Lily’s compound was indeed quackery and that “Aly’s Brown Liquid”, although not medicinal and unlikely to save the human race, will preserve my sanity while I am painting the white and yellow coats of the Spanish army of 1808.

Wednesday 21 November 2018

French 1812-13 Project Completed!

The weekend saw the completion of 1812-1813 project with the basing of the last 30 cavalry figures.

Started just on a year ago this army was intended as a bit of a filler in that it was to be predominantly a plastic army and I would hold a "stock" of plastic figures on hand so that when the lead pile diminished, there was something to work on. 

This batch of figures completes the light cavalry division, with two regiments of chaseurs á cheval, the 11th...

...and the 12th.

Also completed are four left over chasseurs and two hussars for use as couriers, ADCs and scouts.

And the final tally:

• 17 infantry battalions
• 4 cuirassier regiments
• 2 carabinier regiments
• 4 dragoon regiments, mounted and dismounted
• 2 hussar regiments
• 2 chasseur a cheval regiments
• 2 squadrons of line lancers
• 2 squadrons of dragoons
• 5 field batteries
• 3 light batteries
• 5 horse batteries
• 30 command figures
• 8 couriers, ADCs or scouts.

As I said the whole force was done using plastic figures from the Perrys, Victrix (the field and light batteries) and Warlord Games (the lancers), with the exception of 18 generals, 20 horse gunners and 5 horse guns from the Perry metal range.

In all the figure count is: 505 foot,  224  mounted and 13 guns.

A parade will follow as soon as it can be organised.

Sunday 18 November 2018

English Civil War Game

Today we played a fictitious English Civil War game. I have managed to lose my original briefing sheet so I will try to remember the setup as best I can.

It was set a short time after the action at Cropredy Bridge in June 1644 where Waller, played by me, was defeated and lost most of his artillery train. Waller concieved a plan not only to retrieve the guns, but also to capture the King who was enroute to Oxford. The forces were more or less equal and arrived on the table from opposite ends. 

The field of play from the Royalist end of the table
And from the Parliamentarian end 

The King and his entourage 

The arrival of the Parliamentary foot

By chance, and possibly by the umpire's design, the opposing cavalry forces quickly confronted each other along the road and an indecisive fight erupted, after which the Royalist cavalry retired.


In the centre of the table the dragoons of each site engaged in a fire fight in which Parliament soon gained the upperhand.

Action then centred around the hill opposite the Parliament horse

The battle see sawed for some time while the Scots swung wide out on the rught flank. 

After a prolonged struggle the Royalist were beaten and most of their troops quit the field, allowing Waller to recover his guns, but more critically capture the King 

So it was that in late June 1644 the English Civil War ended.

Friday 16 November 2018

The Return of the Butterfly Effect

My relatively tight focus in recent weeks has given way as I flit between projects to complete a number of items that have been sitting on the edge of the painting table, or finished waiting basing for some time.

First is a bunch of plastic French Napoleonic cavalry figures. These were left overs from the plastic kits and amounted to one hussar, one cuirassier and six dragoons figures. Most were painted  about six months ago. The dragoons I decided to amalgamate into a couple of escort squadrons, the sort of unit that might be assigned as protection to a high ranking general, or might even be assigned as supports for several artillery batteries.

The hussar and cuirassier I decided to turn into couriers or ADCs. Another four chasseur a cheval and two hussar figures still in work will be put to a similar use.

There are also three French colonels that I have painted as senior artillery officers.

Next was another British in Egypt limber and its sailors.

Third is a British artillery set in stovepipe shako, this time with a howitzer.

Fourth is something a bit bigger. When in Paris recently I visited a model soldier shop called Noxa in Place Colette, beside the entrance to the Jardin du Palais Royale. It is a wonderful place, filled with stunningly painted 54mm at extraordinary prices. The beautifull oil-painted flats were very appealing to my magpie tendencies, but I resisted and instead I bought a couple of 54mm unpainted figures. So here is the figure of a Mameluke of the Empire, scuplted by Bruno Leibovitz.

The second figure, a hussar of the 9th regiment from the Revolutionary period, is assembled and undercoated. I hope to have it finished by the end of the year.

Wednesday 14 November 2018

Ten Thousand Little Men

A couple of years ago I was having trouble keeping track of the number and type of units I had in particular collection so that when I wanted to put together a particular game I had to consult some rather imperfect lists or would simply go to the storage boxes or trays and count the units. So I set up a simple database to keep track of things.


From this I can pull out a list of the entire collection, by era or by individual army. It has become a very useful tool since my collections are now quite broad and there is no way I can remember what I have in each collection.

The report also counts the number of foot and mounted figures, along with guns and pieces of equipment (limbers, wagons, ships, etc). 


As I completed Spanish gun set above and punched the information into the database I noted that the number of foot figures had exceeded 10,000. In truth I struck the total a while ago, but have only just updated the database with this new unit, and the actual count is 10,126 foot,1,626 mounted 223 guns and 165 pieces of equipment. Now you could argue that the 10,000 mark was reached quite some time ago if you count foot and mounted as a single entity, but do you count the rider and horse as one or two figures? For me the benchmark is the number of foot figures.


I was astonished at these numbers. The first thing I did was look at all the storage boxes. There didn’t seem to be enough boxes for that number of items, but that was only because there are so many boxes now that they are stored in three different locations in the house. So I put them all together in one place and when I saw them thus grouped it all started to make sense.

To give some sense of scale to the image above, the stack measures 2 metres (6 feet 7 inches) on the base and 1.9 metres (6 feet 3 inches) at the highest point.


I have known for some time that the numbers were getting up there because storage space was running low, but I hadn't run the count report for a while. I mean 10,000 figures! And all 28mm! If space was not the problem I would probably say "20,000 here I come", but all this has made me think a little about where I go from here. I have a few projects to complete – the Spanish Napoleonics, a small expansion of the Carlist Wars, the even smaller project to complete the Heavy Brigade for the Crimean War British and a more moderate expansion of the War of 1812, but I think I may need to curtail forays into new areas of interest in the future. This may mean stop drooling over figures on the internet or in magazines – although restraint is a word for which I have never had much respect.


Maybe I just need to play more games with the figures I have.

Sunday 11 November 2018

French 1812-13 Infantry Complete

This week has been a busy one on the painting table and has seen the completion of a number of items that have been in progress for a while.

The last four battalions of the infantry component for thr French 1812-13 project have completed passage through the uniform store and marched to their barracks.

These are the 4th and 5th battalions of the 15th Légère Regiment...

...and 4th and 5th battalions of the 33rd Régiment de Ligne. 

Also completed this weekend is the high command group of three senior officers and a carabinier standard bearer.

Half a dozen other items are in various stages on the basing tray and will appear over the next week.

Sunday 4 November 2018

French and Indian War Game

Today's regular Sunday game was set in the French and Indian War. The scenario had a fort at one end of the table and a settlement at the other. There were clearings around the fort and the settlement, while the rest of the table was ruled to be in forest. 

The British were in possession of the fort with a garrison of eight battalions and four guns (that could not be removed from the fort) supported by two bands of indians. The British players had to hold the fort and protect the settlement. Knowing that a French attack was immanent, they sent five battalions along the road to the settlement.

The French force comprised ten battalions, supported by three light mortars and a force of  three indian bands supported by two small units of European irregulars. They chose to  attack the settlement with the irregulars and indians, the relief column with five battalions and the fort with the other five battalions and the mortars.

The indians struck first moving against the settlement. The two British indian units tried to intercept, but were driven off by the European irregulars and decided that this fight was not theirs and faded back into the woods. The French indians then ran rampant through the settlement, slaughtering most of the settlers, except for two groups that holed themselves up in one of the houses. 

The houses that the indians captured were put to flames.

Meanwhile the mortars deployed in the open opposite the fort, immediately drawing fire from the guns in the fort, but no other French troops showed themselves.

After the attack on the settlement was under way the French infantry attacked the British relief column. Despite the advantage of surprise things did not go well for the French. The British column formed up and opened fire. The French infantry were cut to pieces in a short time. When the British fixed bayonets and came forward the French gave way and filtered back into the woods.

At the fort the British guns were beginning to damage the French mortars, but the British infantry, uncomfortable being constrained in the fort under mortar fire, marched out and tried to form up. At the same time the French infantry advanced to try to draw fire from the mortars. One of the French battalions saw an opportunity and charged a British that was forming, routing it and the French then broke onto another battalion, driving that back, but failing to rout it.

The turn before the thought of capturing the fort seemed a hopeless task, but when two of the British units decided that they had had enough and took to the woods, the remaining battalion went back into the fort. The five French battalions turned their attention to the fort and delivered a devastating musketry volley that shattered the defenders. The next turn the fort surrendered.

The French celebrated the capture of the fort with a parade then drank the the British stock of Madeira.

With the fort in French hands most of the settlement in flames the British conceded defeat.