Saturday, 26 April 2014

Weighing In

A relative recently brought over a sizeable box of AB figures bought from an eBay seller in America, and boy did she moan about the weight...(when she is going home loaded down with riding equipment I never hear a murmur - although she does admit her luggage is opened every time by curious airport & customs staff - as they pull out riding crops, snaffle bits and god knows what else she does get some strange looks...).

This prompted me to actually weigh my unpainted 15mm collections. So here we are:

Later French Napoleonics  - 4.6 kg

Austrian Napoleonics - 1.2 kg

Russian Napoleonics - 0.75 kg

British Napoleonics - 0.75 kg

Spanish Napoleonics - 2 kg

1806 Prussians - 3 kg

1806 French - 2.75 kg

Total Napoleonic Lead Weight = 15.05 kg
The biggest component of the 15 kilogrammes are AB figures, followed by BH, with a small amount of Xan Miniatures. I used to have a fair few OG and Fantassin figures too - but they went North of the border to Paul ( Napoleonics In Miniature ) Alba's brother, David when I decided I wasn't going to mess around with poorly sculpted and cast figures anymore (David on the other hand, likes OG and Fantassin).

ACW = 4.6 kg
All of this is Battle Honours - I sold off the Old Glory figures (probably the same weight again) two or three months ago.

AWI = 2.1 kg
All Polly Oliver - bought in dribs and drabs over the years. Really nice figures, but they've pretty much sat unloved since I got them. One or two figures are making it into my Spanish Militia battalions for the Peninsula.

Sci-Fi = 1.2 kg
All GZG - I think GZG were having a sale and I had the urge to do something completely out of my own imagination - but these too are rather unloved

If you add that lot up - it's just short of 23 kilogrammes (or just over 50 lbs). Now I have to admit I'm pretty surprised by this - I was pretty sure I owned at least my own body weight. On the other hand, I weighed one of my 32 figure Spanish battalions and it weighed 100 grammes (a 12 figure cavalry squadron was about 140 grammes). This would mean that 1 kilo is equivalent to roughly 320 infantry, or 86 cavalry. This means my Napoleonic lead pile contains something like 3,000 to 4,000 painting points and would thus, assuming I went at full steam ahead doing ten figures a week, take me until the early 2020's to clear. The balance of the 15mm pile (just short of 8 kg) should see me through to retirement.

And yet, I'm clearly underweight (I know) in British, and have no Portuguese at all - so obviously need to add some more figures to make up this deficiency at some point.

So how much does your lead pile weigh? And how many years painting at your "normal" painting speaad does this represent?

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Spanish Divisions at Ocana, And Some Militia Musings

Having laid out the organisation of Leval's Division at Ocana ( Leval's Division ) I thought I should look at the opposition I plan to paint.

Leval faced two Spanish Divisions - the 3rd Division under General Giron, and the 4th, under Castejon - Leval had the Polish under Werle to his left, and a variety of units to his right.

Spanish Army of the Centre, 3rd Division
1st Bn, Spanish Royal Guard - 921 men
2nd Bn, Rgt de Linea Cordoba - 660 men
Rgt de Linea de las Alpujarras - 663 men
Rgt de Linea de Bailen - 1124 men (2 battalions?)
Rgt Ligero de Velez-Malaga -566 men
Milicia Provincial de Jaen - 878 men
Milicia Provincial de Ecija - 876 men
Artillery Battery - 6 guns

Total Strength = 5688 men, 6 guns

Spanish Army of the Centre, 4th Division
Rgt de Linea de Malaga - 743 men (2 battalions?)
3rd Bn, Rgt de Linea de Cordoba - 422 men
5th Bn, Rgt de Linea de Voluntarios de Seville - 535 men
2nd Bn, Rgt de Linea de Loja - 510 men
Rgt de Linea de Velez-Malaga - 1200 men
Milicia Provincial de Jerez - 650 men
Milicia Provincial de Bujalance - 469 men
Artillery Half Battery - 4 guns

Total Strength = 5095 men, 4 guns

OOB taken from Guerreros y Batalles No 81, "Ocana 1809" by Francisco Vela Santiago.

The Spanish Army of the Centre was probably the largest fielded by the Spanish during the Peninsular War - some 53,000 men. It was an amalgam of the Army of the Estramadura (the army that had fought alongside Wellington at Talavera) and the Army of La Mancha (which had been scattered in August 1809 by the French at Almanacid). The Junta added new levies, particularly from Andalucia. The British supplied uniforms and equipment through the port of Cadiz so the Army was relatively well equipped by Spanish standards.

However the Army was not without problems - it was a mix of troops that had "seen the elephant" a number of times, and troops who had received little training. Although it had a cavalry component, Spanish cavalry of the time was notoriously poor quality. And they suffered the normal shortage of quality commanders.

As a wargames project this has a number of things going for it from my point of view. The Spanish Army had undergone changes to their uniform regulations in 1802, and again in 1805. Some units wore the M1805 uniform and others the M1802 - and still others wore (I imagine) a bastardised version of the two. Finally there were newly raised battalions that wore something cobbled together locally, or something supplied by British contractors. For me, this means that I can paint a variety of uniforms and still be historically valid - and I think it will be fun trying to find figures that will work.

So far I've painted a couple of Milicia Provincial battalions in the M1805 uniform (white jackets and trousers, solid red facings, collar and cuffs), and they were fine to do. Nice and quick (by my standards) with no fiddly lining - undercoating white means I don't even need to paint the jacket and trousers. But I'm thinking the next battalion will either be the Royal Guards - or a line battalion in the M1802 uniform (medium blue jacket with black facings, collar and cuffs, piped red.

As for militia - I was thinking that some of the AB Portuguese figures ( AB - PG06 ) would work for troops supplied with British equipment - so a pale blue uniform, no lace, red collar, cuffs and turnbacks. All the gear (pack, waterbottle etc) would be painted as per a British Line Infantryman. I thought a battalion or two of these would look rather nice on the table. And the AB figures labelled "militia" (wearing top hats with a wide brim) can also be painted as line infantry. All good fun.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

More Salute Pictures - Not The Cutting Room Floor

For those of you who don't blog at all there are a number of pages "hidden" behind the main the one - I usually just go straight to the "New Post" page and sometimes look in the "Comments" section - yesterday I had a look at the "Statistics" page and the last post on Salute 2014 seems to have gone a bit viral. It is now my second most popular post ever (with about 1250 hits so far). So thanks to you all for popping by and for your very kind comments.

Anyway, here are the remaining pictures I took on the day (not so much the cutting room floor as "I can't remember what game that was from, or who did the hard work to put it on").
I think this was the "less interesting" end of the Gripping Beast Advertorial for their new "Crescent & The Cross" Saga supplement.

I think this is Whitehall Warlords "Iron Butterflies In The Killer Jungle", a 15mm Vietnam game. It was actually much bigger than this, extending out either side.

The above three shots are of the 28mm game from the Continental Wars Society's "Avanti - Capture the Villa Corsini" - a participation game set during the siege of Rome in 1849. It featured some "paint converted" Perry 28mm ACW and set Giles off on a "forgotten wars of the 19th Century" conversation with the chaps running the game - although I think the 19th Century has been having a bit of a resurgence over the last couple of years.

Next up are three pictures of "August 1914" by CTK Wargaming, a 15mm game set at Tannenberg. I've got the Solshenitsyn novel in my "to read again" pile by my bed. Really nice terrain - over three hundred trees and N-gauge buildings various model railway producers, the grass effect was hanging basket liner covered over with flock.

Another two views of the Dien Bien Phu era 28mm game put on by Chemins de Feu, demonstrating masterly use of aquarium foliage (and I mean that sincerely).

And I think the above pictures are of the Abbey Wood Irregulars "21 Into 6 Won't Go" - a demonstration of the Mission Command rules. Correction: This game was by the Jersey Privateers (I'm even more impressed now I know it survived a Channel crossing unscathed) entitled the "D-Day Dodgers". The standard of terrain was really first rate, a beautiful game.

And this is one of the "I have no idea who did this" games - I remember it was quite substantial and the chaps in the last shot were sneaking up the flank - 28mm.

I think this "Escape to New Victoria" by Red Planet Miniatures, a VSF game (duh!) set on Mars. 28mm and very nicely done.

I think this is White Hart Wargames "Allan Quartermaine & The Lost City" game - it wasn't quite this dark at Salute - it's the effect of the flash I used.

And that is it - and no photos of the Newark Irregulars 28mm "Keren 1941", Frothers "The Spice Must Flow" or a number of other super games that I should have taken a few snaps of (my camera being buried at the bottom of my carrier bag is a poor excuse). And looking at the programme trying to identify the games I did take pictures of only makes me aware of the games that we must have passed by - and where was the "diorama" that was to be put on by Ron Ringrose aka the Essex Gamester?

Overall it was a great Salute, extremely well organised by the South London Warlords as usual - I think it says something for the slick way they manage the show that my biggest whine was about something over which they have no control - the lighting. Although I did find navigating around the show challenging part of it was purely me (the map in the guide has the entrance at the bottom and in my "mental map" I entered at the top - as the hall is essentially a featureless box with a grid pattern I struggled a bit) and partly the lack of reference markers - possibly some signs for next year? 

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Salute 2014 & Paint Table Saturday

I went along to Salute 2014 yesterday and took a few snaps. Unlike most visitors yesterday, I didn't travel directly to Salute, but took a small detour via the Oval - I'd signed up to do a zip-line from one side to the other in aid of the Stroke Association:

For those of you familiar with the Oval I travelled in a downwards direction from the Corinthian Bar (people in my office will be commenting that this is the first time I've left a bar sober) to the pavilion. It doesn't look very high from ground level but I'm sure the regulars up there will confirm you are high enough to get a good view of London. I did note that the track of the cable didn't cross the wicket - presumably the groundsman had insisted he didn't want to fill in any Malcolm sized dents in the turf.

All the paperwork and kitting out was done in the Long Room - this is me post-plunge with the mother and daughter team who came down right after me. I did try to suggest "ladies first" but they were having none of it. Still, so far, I've raised just over £940 (including cheques and Gift Aid) for the Stroke Association. If any kind souls would like to help me breach the £1000 mark then you can contribute here: Malcolm's Big Plunge Page

And then it was on to Salute - I arrived at just gone 11.00 and my first impression was that there were more gamers there than usual, and that the venue was darker than usual. My first task was to collect my pre-ordered purchases (some more AB Spanish infantry and cavalry, and some bases) and then wander a bit until Giles (of Tarleton's Quarter fame) arrived.

This was the Barbastro 1837 game by South London Warlords using mostly Perry figures, with some conversions (I of course fell for the little details, while Giles got excited by the whole thing).

Giles and I had gone to Salute a year or two ago and been generally unimpressed at the standard of presentation of games - nothing had floated our respective boats. This year was rather different - there were lots of games of all sizes that had knockout scenery and nice troops.

These three pics are from the Gripping Beast demo game publicising their new "Crescent and the Cross" Saga supplement. Not co-incidently they had their new box of plastic generic North African / Berber archers and Spearmen on sale - the Little Big Man shield transfers to go with them looked lovely.

I'm a bit embarrassed that I didn't make a note of the name of the game or the guys that put this WWI game on (and, worse, I only seem to have taken one picture) - I think it belongs to the South East Essex Military Society and depicts the "Race to the Sea" in 1914. Not too many troops on the table (overcrowded tables are a pet peeve of mine - I'm just as anti "wall to wall" Napoleonic infantry battalions as I am wall to wall WWII tanks), absolutely gorgeous terrain that perfectly evoked the location, time and period - with lots of lovely details like a dog peeing up against the foot of a statue). And friendly guys on hand to chat about the table, figures and game. I think I'd have probably given this game "Best In Show".

Close behind would be this game from 1953 Vietnam, "The Weapons Cache" by Chemins de Feu (a small Belian club Chemins de Feu) who were pitting French troops against Vietminh insurgents. A beautiful board that really evoked the damp and difficult conditions, beautifully painted 28mm figures (the camouflage on the French guys was absolutely excellent) and there were lots of lovely details.

This game, was (I think) Sword Beach D Day 1944 and was clearly a case of not "less is more" but of "more is more" - beautiful models on a grand scale (lets put all we've got on the table until it groans under the weight), and very good scenery. But it didn't light my fire much - I'd be surprised if it wasn't up there in the show awards though, because this is exactly the kind of the thing the organisers seem to like.

Dave Brown (author of General de Brigade and Battle Group Panzer Grenadier) pontificating, sandwich in hand, to a fellow Loughton gamer (I cut off the top of his head on purpose - I don't want to embarrass Dave by revealing the poor guy was nodding off with boredom!). In front of them, of course, is a 15mm "Attack on Ponyri" during the battle of Kursk in 1943, and this game was a high standard as we've come to expect from the talented chaps from Essex.

For those of you who like pike blocks, something a little different - Arklow 1798 - there was a distinct dearth of Napoleonic games at Salute 2014 (despite a range of 1814 battles hitting their 200th anniversary this year) and I guess 1798 is "almost" Napoleonic. It looked wonderful - but I can't help feeling that there is a distinct lack of utility with these figures (substituting French in bicornes for French in shakoes is one thing but there isn't much else you can do with these bad boys). this was put on by WI and Trent Miniatures (who make the figures).

I commented that there were very Napoleonic games at Salute - there do seem to be an increasing number of fantasy games there - I've no idea which game this was but I thought the terrain was spot on, they did a lot in a small space without overdoing it. 

Every year I look at the wonderful terrain produced by Oshiro Terrain, and think 'I really might try a few Samurai' and every year fight off the urge. You can see the top of Giles' head as he snaps away in the first picture.

Finally, this is the Capitan Games / Warmodelling Battle of Talavera, played in 15mm with Napoleon's Battles rules. As I slate their figures with some frequency in this blog I was a bit embarrassed to hang around too long but I thought the terrain was absolutely superb.

My purchases were modest:

4x32 AB Spanish Infantry Battalions
3x16 AB Spanish Dragoons
2x4 AB Saxon Gun Crew (to stand in as Hesse Darmstadt gun crew for Laval's Division)

Some of the new Xan Miniatures Highlanders and Light Infantry.

Some Warbases "Premier" bases - these have smooth sides and that slightly barbecued smell from the laser cutting, and are very nice.

The Gripping Beast Arab Spearmen and Archers set - I'm collecting the figures (and bases, see above) for a late Reconquista project.  

And I suppose (like a Government PR Officer slipping out the bad news on a busy day) I should announce that this week I completed no figures at all - I have a lot of half painted figures but nothing completed. So as of Week 14 (140 figure target) I have slipped back to 99 figures behind schedule. I'm thinking I should be able to catch up in Week 15 when a good number of the Hesse Darmstadt infantry should be complete - those AB Jena Prussians do look the business.