Saxons and Salute
Posted by Martin on April 20, 2008
Sorry for being so brief last night – I really was fit to drop after spending most of the day on my feet and the long journey home. The closure of the Dockland Light Railway (DLR) was well publicised in advance and the alternative bus service was extremely well-organized but I still had to wrestle with the rest of the Tube network between Paddington and Canning Town. So here’s a more detailed account of yesterday at Salute…
The obvious place to start is that, as usual, I met up with Peter F. and we toured the show together for most of the day. As regulars here will know, Peter has had problems with a machine called a vulcaizer. This is the piece of equipment that’s used to make the rubber moulds that are then used in the casting machine to cast the actual metal figures. Before the vulcanizer’s heating pads expired, Peter was able to make a couple of serviceable moulds and he used these to cast up some samples of three figures from the imminent new march-attack Saxon musketeers. He was kind enough to give me some of these samples and a few other “Friends of Calpe Miniatures” also received the same gift. The pictures you see in this post are my feeble efforts to photograph them this morning.
These particular figures and photographs may not show the fact too well but there are, in fact, many variations in the march-attack figures throughout the set. While all three of the figures here are in covered shakos, there are a range of head (Peter scuplted new ones for this range) and headgear variants. Others include shakos with cowhode covers and uncovered shakos. You can see that these figures carry their muskets in the French style but even within that these little chaps show variations and there are more on the rear where the equipment they carry has slight differences – one of these figures has a spare pair of shoes tied to his backpack and another has a tin cup attached. Another group of these musketeers also has rolled greatcoats worn across the body in classic campaign style to protect against sabre cuts and the like.
There’s going to be quite a selection of command figures: a drummer, I think two standard bearers (but I might have mis-remembered that bit), an enthusiastic figure and at least six different officers. Why so many officer variations? Well, some wear bicorns and some wear the Saxon light blue (rather close in shade to Bavarian cornflower blue) surtout. Peter’s been busy writing a full set of uniform and painting notes to accompany the figures and there will be one or more small surprises about this release but I can’t mention those yet.
On the Vulcanizer front, the good news is that Peter’s sourced and ordered the spare parts needed to fix it (though there’s quite a tale to how he eventually tracked down a supplier). He expects them to arrive in the next two weeks and then it’ll be a straightforward job to wire them in. The only real complexity is that the vulcanizer has to be disassembled in order to do the work and it includes several very heavy metal parts.
So on to Salute itself. I think the higlights were three demo games. Loughton Strike Force’s substantial Waterloo game had a table groaning under the weight of many big battalions. It’s so good to see the spectacle that is a large game played using the General de Brigade ruleset. At the other extreme, Touching History’s Peninuslar War game sported far fewer figures but balanced that with Paul’s customary superb scenery. And lastly, though out of my period, the Perrys had a demo set using their news ACW plastics. This wasn’t so much a demo game as a battle diorama laid out to show the new figures to best advantage.
Peter and I had a chat with Alan Perry (the twins are really nice friendly people) while closely inspecting a couple of boxes of the figures. The hard plastic sprues are cleverly designed and include seperate headwear options along with some seperate arms and weapons. Each box includes a simple one page set of rules which in turn has several full-colour flags printed out on it for you to cut out and glue on to the figures. The moulding has been done in blue for some boxes and grey for others. Alan told us that this was inspired by the old Airfix figures we all remember from our childhoods. If only the Airfix boxes had been this good. The quality of the mouldings is very good (done by the people who used to do the Matchbox kits apparently) and the horses in the cavalry pack are particularly outstanding and, in my view, better that the Perry’s own metal ones with good musculature and none of those thin legs. Alan also shared with us that they plan to do plastics for other periods but wasn’t yet read to say which ones so I expect the rumours to continue unbated.
With the propsect of painting a lot of white Saxon uniforms in mind, I was keen to acquire some Foundry white paint to see if it will be an improvement on the Vallejo I currently use. The two troubles I sometimes get with the Vallejos are a). the while has a slight tendancy to go chalky and b). I’ve tried to find a really pale grey between the light grey and the white in the Vallejo range. While there are a couple of candidates, the coverage of them isn’t any good. So I wanted to get the Foundry “arctic grey” three-colour set to test out. I was able to find a pack at the somewhat basic Foundry stand but ended up hanging around for several minutes while some poor chap went in search of change and later, when I inspected the pack more closely I discovered that Foundry’s packing quality control was awry: instead of one of each of 33A, 33B and 33C I actually had one 33A (that’s the white), two 33Bs (the mid-shade) and no 33C (the darker shade). As it happens, that suits me just fine in this particular case because the white and the mid-shade are the ones I’m most interested in. A line up with my Vallejos this morning confirmed that the Vallejo light grey should work nicely as the third shade with this pair (and I may even use the Vallejo neutral grey as a basecoat).
I should also have purchased a pack of the rawhide set while I was at the Foundry stand the first time around because they ran out of stock later. I found that a bit weird: how is it that a company can turn up with insufficient supplies of the thing that occupies the majority of its stand? And while I’m feeling a little uncharitable, I ought to get it out of my system that I took a look at the new Foundry Imperial Guard packs. My mum always taught me that I should say nothing if I can’t find anything good to say. So we’ll close that particular topic right now.
One of the things I enjoy most about going to shows like Salute is meeting up with other people from the hobby and this year everybody seemed to be in really good spirits. An unexpected surprise was the arrival of Peter’s friend Ian who has just be posted to Moscow by his company. We all thought he was already in Russia but he had travelled back to the UK for a few days and he’s invited Peter and I to visit for a week so that we can tour the museums and the Borodino battlefield. So the exciting news is that we’re currently planning this trip. It’s not certain that it’ll happen yet but we’re quietly confident that we can work out dates that suit everybody and get the visas organized without any difficultly. So, who knows? I might be typing a couple of postings from a new and exciting part of the world in a few weeks time.