Posted by Martin on September 5, 2011
It’s struck me that wargamers hibernate the opposite way round to nature. We rest from our hobby through the warm Summer months and the come out of our metaphorical burrows when Autumn begins for a period of activity that runs through to the end of the following Spring. I’m even beginning to develop the theory that here in the UK, the wargaming “season” (rather like the grouse shooting season) has official start and end dates. My suggested start date being the Colours show at Newbury in September and my suggested end date being Salute in London in April. Enough of this folly…
There is some truth in my theory though because I do detect increased hobby activity around this time of year. As evidence of that I offer the following: Perrys’ bumper release of new Prussian metals, a fascinating horse painting video tutorial from Toby “Artmaster Studio” Thorton, increased discussion fora activity and (being briefly parochial) the seasonal increase in traffic here at BfK.
Let’s take a closer look at a couple of these beginning with the Perrys. Among other things, they’ve release nine metal Prussian cavalry packs, each comprising three figures and three horses. These packs are evenly divided across Cuirassiers, line Uhlans and Landwehr cavalry. I haven’t had the opportunity to inspect the figures in person but there are photos of all nine packs on the Perry Miniatures website. I suspect that the Cuirassiers will be the most popular release with many Prussian collectors because there a few options in 28mm for this troop type – even the extensive Calpe range doesn’t include them yet.
As for the Landwehr cavalry and the Uhlans, well these may pose a dilemma for some collectors since they provide the first credible competition for the Calpe figures. I suspect it’ll come down to a matter of personal taste but you all know which side my bread is buttered. I even managed to earn the dubious “sock puppet” badge of honour on one discussion forum for pointing out in a thread about the Perry release that I felt the Calpe figures were better. But, knowing the forum in question, I suspect this was light-hearted jest rather than a serious insult. Of course, there’s another forum that shall not be named where things would probably have been more spiteful…
Perry Prussian Landwehr cavalry command pack.
As an aside, one of the things that I noticed in the photos of the Perry Prussian cavalry was that they’ve all be primed light grey. I think the reason for this is to make the photography easier to show more details. It’s an uncanny coincidence that I’m also experimenting with grey primer but for different reasons. I’m investigating whether I can get better results by switching from back to grey – especially for lighter colours like yellows and whites. I’ll post some photos once the experiment gets into full swing.
Talking of painting, Toby Thorton has tackled the often thorny (see what I did there?) topic of painting horses in the latest of his insightful series of tutorial videos. He covers all kinds of territory including several useful paint triads and an overview of several different horse painting techniques. I’ve embedded it here for your viewing enjoyment:
I’ll sign off by bringing things full circle to say that the Autumn campaign is set to start at Calpe Towers too with news of the the next packs in the French infantry “route march” set. Head variant packs F7 to F9 will be next and possibly a head variant pack for the regimental command group because Peter F. wants it for his own collection (oh, what it must be like to enjoy that kind of luxury). Peter is also working on the battalion command pack and hopes to have this ready for release early next month. More officer packs (both foot and mounted), an NCO pack and “dynamic” packs (with casualty figures and enthusiastic figures) will be released to complete this set of figures before the end of the year.
Look out for us rummaging round the demo games, traders and painting competition at Colours this coming weekend!
Posted in Calpe Towers, Forward Patrol, Tutorials | Tagged: Colours, Perry, Prussia, Toby Thornton | 8 Comments »
Posted by Martin on September 15, 2009
Uniforms of Waterloo (Blandford Press, London, 1974)
As I suspected, despite the title above, I was too tired to complete this post on Sunday evening. My feet are still aching from going up and down all the stairs in the venue! Something that isn’t aided by the fact that we did a four-hour family dog walk and blackberry picking outing on Saturday.
My overall impression of Colours this year is that attendance was slightly down but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing – either for visitors or traders. The games and trade stands were easier to get at and more comfortable to stay at making for a more pleasant experience and, according to some traders I spoke to, encouraging more actual purchasing.
As usual, my companion around the show was Peter F. and the latest news from Calpe Towers is that the first moulds for Saxon artillery pieces have been made and I’ve now got a couple of these highly distinctive items in my possession. I’m too stretched to photograph them for you now but that delight will follow in due course. Peter’s also working on the Saxon grenadiers to complement the already released musketeers and then artillery crew will follow. The other photo-worthy item is Peter’s entry in the painting competition that came a creditable second in its class – I’ll have a nice picture of that for you soon too.
The demo games were of variable standard and there wasn’t much new or exciting to report from the trade stands yet, despite this lack of excitement, I still really enjoyed the day and picked up a couple of bits and pieces that I’d been after for a while or that had been recommended. I got some 100mm wire pikes for cutting down as landwehr cavalry lances; on Peter Royle’s recommendation via Peter F., I got yet another type of white paint to try (more of that on another occasion); and I acquired some very neat castings of wooden barrels and buckets from Antenociti’s Workshop – these are destined to grace some artillery and command bases.
I also learnt a lesson about striking while the iron is hot (or rather, failing to do so). I saw a second-hand copy of the Blandford Press book Uniforms of the Retreat from Moscow on one of the booksellers’ stands but rather than snaffle it there and then I opted to see what else I might find elsewhere and return later. Of course, the inevitable happened and another eagle-eyed shopper had purchased the book by the time I returned. Never mind, I was forced to console myself with a copy of Uniforms of Waterloo from the same publisher instead. While it’s true that these old Blandfords contain quite a few errors and modern research has superdeded them they are still useful and many of the colour plates are lovely little works of art.
So that brings to a close this year’s visits to wargaming shows for me and, as Autumn begins, I can turn attention to painting again on the cooler evenings. Plus I’ve got a weekend of sculpting and mould making lessons to look forward to at Calpe Towers in a few weeks time.
Posted in Calpe Towers, Clubs and Shows, Reading List | Tagged: Antenociti's Workshop, Blandford Press, Colours, Saxony | 2 Comments »
Posted by Martin on September 10, 2009
This weekend sees another key date in the annual wargaming calendar – Colours at Newbury Racecourse. This is a regular in my diary and I’ve enjoyed it all the more since it moved away from the cramped and difficult-to-park-at Hexagon in Reading. For me, getting there on Sunday (I don’t go to the Saturday of this two-dayer) is a simple drive East along the A4 and the parking at the Racecourse is free.
So I’ll be sitting down to compile my shopping / to-do list tonight though it will be hampered by the fact that the Colours website yet again doesn’t (at the time of writing) have an up-to-date list of traders or demo games. It’s only two days to the show, guys, surely you could manage to make this information available by now?
Still, that’s a minor gripe and, more importantly, I’ll be meeting up as usual with Peter F. So that gives us an opportunity to pick up the Calpe threads after our Summer breaks. We’ve got several things on the agenda: completion of the PayPal functionality for the website, progress on the next Saxon releases and a weekend of sculpting tutorials and mould-making later in the Autumn. If any of you are attending Colours and want to see what a painted Calpe Saxon musketeer battalion looks like, I suggest you check out the painting competition because Peter F. is almost certain to enter a little something.
The other imminent event that’s caught my attention is the latest Foundry open day on 25th September. Plenty of juiciness to this with the presence of Kevin Dallimore (lovely chap) doing a painting clinic and a couple of big Napoleonic participation games. The trouble is there’s a snowball in hell’s chance of me (and I suspect many others) going. Why? Well, apart from a long journey to Nottingham (which Foundry can’t help) they’ve persisted with the lunacy of holding the open day on a Friday. Are they quite mad? Why can’t they schedule it for a weekend?
Lastly, on a personal note, another event I’d like to mention is that tomorrow von Peter and his family end their eight month sojourn in the UK and begin a stately passage back to their home in New Zealand. It’ll take them quite a while to get there because they’re taking in a grand tour of mainland Europe on the way. So I’d just like to take a moment to wish them bon voyage and thank them for their good company and coffee-buying heroics while they’ve been here.
UPDATE 12/9/09: there is now a list of traders on the Colours website but it’s not linked to from the home page (or rather the link there doesn’t work).
Posted in Calpe Towers, Clubs and Shows, Forward Patrol | Tagged: Calpe, Colours, Foundry | 7 Comments »
Posted by Martin on September 15, 2008
After some late juggling of the social diary, I was able to make it along the A4 to Newbury Racecourse to attend Colours 2008 last Sunday. Compared to previous years, it was a quiet show and I spoke to a couple of traders (it isn’t fair to name names) who’s takings were way down. Nobody seemed quite sure why. Perhaps the economic downturn is having an effect, perhaps it’s because the sun actually shone last weekend and people were taking their last chance to get out before Autumn sets in or perhaps (as in one case) there were difficulties with allotted stand space.
As usual, I met up with Peter F. and, as we strolled round, I got the latest news on the vulcanizer and preparations for the Saxon range. At this stage, I don’t think I should go into details but the struggle continues. With luck, though, there might be some good news about at least one aspect of the trials and tribulations that have afflicted Calpe Towers this year.
There was little to admire on the Napoleonic demo games front. The only exception being a demo participation game using the new Sharpe Practice rules. The set-up looked good with some well constructed scenery and a good smattering of enthusiastic young players. Dave Thomas had some of the new Crusader French Napoleonic infantry and they look really good in the flesh. I reckon they would fit well with late-Foundry figures and possibly even the Perrys output. The sculpting is in a smooth, flowing style that usually lends itself well to easy painting.
The other item that really impressed me was a new book about Dutch-Belgian cavalry. Now, I’m not particularly obsessed by the Hundred Days campaign but if there were a whole set of books of this quality on the market, I might get tempted. The book is simply entitled Dutch-Belgian Cavalry at Waterloo and is published by a Belgian company called De Cavalerie, written by a Dutch author André Dellevoet with a German illustrator Marius Niemietz. It’s a luxurious work of over 200 pages in hardback, beautifully produced and terrifically illustrated. This PDF of a promotional leaflet gives you some idea of the quality of this title. If only these chaps would turn their attention to Prussians or Saxons or Wurttemburgers…
I resisted the tempatation and settled instead for my first pack of Perry French cuirassiers. At some point I need to construct a single squadron of the 13th Cuirassiers, so I thought I’d try out pack of the “at rest” figures. There are some interesting painting challenges on these little chaps – mainly the regimental numbers on the end of the valises and the flaming grenade insignia in the corners of the saddlecloths. Hmmm, more candidates for my mythic wishlist of Napoleonic decals.
Posted in Calpe Towers, Clubs and Shows, Forward Patrol, Reading List | Tagged: Books, Colours, Crusader, Dutch-Belgian, Perry | 4 Comments »