Wednesday 24 June 2020

The Necessity of Nostalgia

Frank Zappa once wrote: “It isn't necessary to imagine the world ending in fire or ice - there are two other possibilities: one is paperwork, and the other is nostalgia.” But Frank wrote a lot of weird stuff. 

That said, I can agree with the first possibility, although the medium has changed since Frank’s day and in the 21st Century the equivalent - digital paperwork if you like - is “approvals”. Oddly while business activity has slowed during the COVID crisis, the number of approvals that pass across my digital desktop every day is  quite alarming.

I like nostalgia – in a limited sort of way. I don’t mean nostalgia about the good old times of the my youth, because by comparison to today (COVID excepted) I don’t know that those good old days were as good as our selective memory allows us to think. There were certainly many good things in the old days and one that I think was a very positive thing for our society here in NZ is that before 1985 there was very limited retail weekend trading so shopping malls were closed and families actually did things together on the weekends. But on the other hand if you ran out of the red paint you needed to finish that unit of British infantry late on Friday night you had to wait until Monday to get some more, which was really annoying if you wanted to use that unit in Sunday’s game. There is no way I long for the days before the technological advances of the 2000’s that makes so much possible in our lives today. 

Now I do tend to indulge in a bit of nostalgia around birthday time, and one has just passed, but my most pleasurable nostalgia relates to our hobby. The triggers can be odd: sometimes it is seeing a particular miniature that hasn't been out of the box for a long time and I will be able to remember exactly what was happening in my life when I bought it, or it can remind me of a game or a series of games that were particularly enjoyable; other times when I am deeply involved in cleaning up my study I will stumble across a book that I haven’t seen for years. For the next hour I can pour over that book completely lost to the world while the clean-up is completely forgotten.

Then there is the way that the mind can use nostalgia to play tricks. I have been playing structured wargames (as opposed to just playing with toy soldiers – although sometimes I wonder if there is a difference when I hear gamers in their 50s and 60s making “dakka dakka dakka” machine gun noises during games) since 1972 and with a number of members of my current group since 1980. In the immediate four years after joining that group I have such intense memories that make it seem a much longer time. I suppose it was a time of intense discovery and that freshness spawned many memories.

I think in these difficult times when it is so easy to be overwhelmed by negativity, a bit of nostalgia is good for the soul. I have no desire to turn the clock back, but it is nice to be able to reflect on those simpler times.


Monday 22 June 2020

Another Confederate Infantry Regiment

Just a small post today to show that I haven’t been completely inactive.

Here is a Confederate infantry regiment - number 11 of the current batch I think.

There is just one Union and one Confederate unit to be finished in this batch.

In truth I am a suffering from ACW fatigue and looking forward to something a little different in a couple of weeks.

Tuesday 16 June 2020

Union Regiment Number Twelve

Today sees the completion of the twelfth Union infantry regiment of the ACW project.

There is one more Union and two Confederate regiments to go.

On Sunday we played a Spanish Civil War game, the first full all day game since lockdown ended (although we did play one game during level three when we were allowed to gather in groups of up to ten). It was great to catch up with every one again. My friend Keith did a great job recording the event and I you can read his report here. I will simply add a batch of photos from my side of the table.

The Italians ready to advance.

The Condor Legion fighter enters the fray

Our Spanish Allies on the other side of the table advance.

Avanti! The Italians surge forward

The enemy is entrenched along the railway embankment

The Panzer I’s of the Condor Legion prepare to attack the railway line

And after clearing the infantry from behind the rail line they overrun a field gun, leaving only a mangled mess of metal behind

Finally we have taken the railway line, but our armour is all lost and we can push no further. The game ends.

Friday 12 June 2020

A Temporary Distraction

With life getting back to some level of normality now that we have moved out of our lockdown here in New Zealand (social distancing is gone and only the borders remain closed now), I have felt the need for a break from painting American Civil War infantry and I have spent this week painting some resin buildings for a friend.

The first is one of two Hovels pieces. This is what they call the “Old Country Farmhouse”. It is quite a nice piece and well cast.

The second piece is a fairly random piece of table decoration. I think it is a beehive with a dead tree and a few pieces of  hedge and wicker fencing. A perfect place as my friend says to hide a few dragoons or a sniper. I am not sure who the manufacturer is, but it looks like a Acheson Design piece.

The third piece is a timbered structure with a stone base. Again I am not sure of the manufacturer, but it is a very nicely cast piece. The ability to remove the roof  is a nice touch.

The final piece is another Hovels model. Not as well cast as the first one - there were a lot of air bubbles in the brick work that had to be filled with GreenStuff and covered with ivy where the damage was beyond reasonable repair.

I think this is the “Thyme house-Kentish framing, double bayed...” model that is no longer available.

The intention is to build this model into a significant built up area, surrounded by these brick walls. The walls had a lot of mould damage that saw some big areas filled in with chunks of resin, so the application of some foliage was necessary.

The complete built up area will probably be another week away.

Wednesday 3 June 2020

Butternut Infantry

For the latest additions to the ACW project I decided to work with a predominately brown pallet to create two regiments of butternut infantry.

Using GW Tallarn Sand and Scrag Brown as the base colours, the uniforms were toned, washed and highlighted. Only the officer wears anything near a regulation uniform

A standard sized unit

A tiny unit

To increase the raggedness of the bottom of the trousers got the attention of the scalpel. Then patches of various colours were applied to knees and elbows. Finally to avoid a total wall of beige the blanket rolls were given some colour.