Befreiungskriege 1813-14

Painting and modelling 28mm Napoleonic wargaming miniatures

Posts Tagged ‘Wargames Illustrated’

One thing leads to another

Posted by Martin on November 12, 2012

Some of Roger Morrow's Poles, sculpted by Paul Hicks.

Some of Roger Morrow’s Poles, sculpted by Paul Hicks.

An example of Frank Hammond's Minden Miniatures sculpted by Richard Ansell.

An example of Frank Hammond’s Minden Miniatures sculpted by Richard Ansell.

It’s funny how things can seem to take on a life of their own. Before I started the BfK Limited Edition Figures Project, I had hardly taken any notice of other people who had commissioned figures for their own purposes. Now I find myself thinking of little else in hobby terms and I am constantly on the look out for other people afflicted with this same peculiar brand of insanity as me.

On top of that, I’ve talked myself into a situation where I actually need to find such people. Why? Because, following an e-mail discussion with Dan at Wargames Illustrated magazine, I’ve been commissioned to write a whole article about the gentlemanly eccentricity of privately commissioning one’s own figures. Now the intention is to base the core of the piece on my own little project, so I have plenty of time to plan things out and get the writing done. What I have realised, though, is that it would be a richer article if I could draw on the experience of others who have already trod this path. By which I mean people who have done it for personal rather than commercial reasons but may have chosen to defray at least some of the costs by making their figures available for sale.

Luckily, I already knew of a couple of foolhardy brave souls who have been at it far longer than me. One is Roger Morrow who has gradually been building his personal range of 1813 Poles; the other is Frank Hammond who has spent a number of years steadfastly satisfying his own stylistic preference for the kind of Seven Years War collection he wants. I am delighted to say that both these fine fellows have consented to answer my series of dilettante questions. Without giving away the game – you’ll need to wait for the article to be published – there’s a lot of commonality between what Frank and Roger have told me.

Despite already gathering plenty of material, I’m on the lookout for more examples of private figure commissions. So, if you’ve done it or know somebody who has and who is willing to submit to my interrogation for the article, please feel free to contact me.

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Posted in Announcements, BfK Limited Edition Figures, Commissions | Tagged: , , , | 6 Comments »

All talk and no pictures

Posted by Martin on April 22, 2012

Phew – what a day! Yesterday was one of the busiest I’ve ever had at a Salute even though it didn’t follow the path I expected. Things began very smoothly with a peaceful and punctual train journey from the secret BfK HQ in the heart of Wiltshire to London Paddington. And that was followed by a quiet and uneventful journey across London by Tube and Docklands Light Railway – perhaps too quiet. I normally expect to encounter other hobbyists on their way to Salute as I get closer to ExCel and I sometimes pass the time by trying to guess if the people on the other seats are going my way. Yesterday, though, there was hardly a rucksack, beard or ponytail (male) in sight 🙂

So I got a shock when I entered ExCel’s doors and made my way down the wide boulevard that bisects the exhibition halls. The queue was immense. It’s clear that everybody else had made a much earlier start than me. I have never seen the queue so long and it continued to grow even after the stewards had started letting people into the hall. So much for economic hard times – I hope all the traders had a good day! Peter F’s comment on the length of the queue was to wistfully muse that if only he could sell just one figure to each person there!

I stuck with the queue for about 15 minutes before I spotted Peter F. along with our friends from overseas: Peter Bunde (Germany), Buddy Hoch (USA), Paul Meganck (Belgium) quietly seated with coffee while waiting for the crush to abate. So I bailed out of the queue to wait with them and take the opportunity to put the next stage of my carefully crafted Salute plan into action. I’ve recently acquired an Android tablet and I was intending to connect up to the ExCel free wifi network as a means of posting to BfK as the day unfolded. The tablet includes a basic camera, so I would have been able to add pictures as a I went along too.

The good news is that there is indeed a free wifi network in the main boulevard (but not in the exhibition halls) and I was able to connect to it. What I’d overlooked is that Internet access beyond the wifi network is restricted and I needed a username and password. By this time, we were all too busy catching up on each others’ news and I didn’t really have the motivation to go off looking for some information point where I might have been able to get help with full Internet access. Still, at least I know what to expect next year!

Meeting and chatting turned out to be the theme of the day, so I didn’t get too much time to look at all the traders and games. Looking at other fora this morning, it’s clear that other people have done a much more thorough job of those sorts of things than me. So I’m going to focus the rest of this report on some personal observations.

Firstly, let’s get the news from Calpe Towers dealt with. Peter F. has completed the last couple of packs for the French infantry route-march set. The main item here the “cherry on the icing” pack which includes a casualty figure, two “enthusiastic” figures and a voltigeur cornetist. Next Peter will be adding a couple of light infantry command packs so that you can build legere units using most of the same figures. All the figures in greatcoats that have already been released can be used for legere as well as line infantry. However, the current officer figures are unsuitable because of detailed uniform differences like the profile of the cuffs. After that, work begins on the march-attack set which I know will be popular with several regular readers here who are desperate to have standard bearer figures with unfurled flags. Peter has already sculpted an eagle in readiness boys!

Possibly the biggest news (and, by the sound of the reactions I’ve seen and heard, the most disappointing for many) was the unveiling of the new period that the Perry twins are targetting. There were “3-up” greens on their stand of Afrika Korps and Eighth Army figures. From my point of view, these figures are sculpted to the usual high standards for the Perrys plastics work but, of course, it’s a period that doesn’t tempt me. And, judging by what I’ve heard, it may not tempt too many others in 28mm. Mainly, I think, because most observers see the North African campaign as better suited to smaller scales.

The other plastic and scale-related item that stuck out for me was the simply beautiful 54mm demonstration game put on by Victrix using their own figures. The figures themselves were well-painted, you can see a definite progression in the quality of figure design and sculpting in the more recent boxes (notably the French line grenadiers) and the buildings on the table were terrific. I’d love to know if they were scratch-built or not. However, the item that really grabbed our attention was the single French artillery gun crewed by five figures. The figures stood out for their natural poses and accurately reproduced campaign uniforms. When we asked about them at the Victrix stand, it transpired that this base had been put together from parts and figures from another plastics manufacturer but Victrix do have plans for 54mm French artillery. I’d love to know who’s figures they used – perhaps they were old Historex ones or maybe there are some buried away in the Andrea range. Either way, though, 54mm scale isn’t really practical for big battalions. Instead, I can see the figures being used for skirmish games or as display case models.

I can’t complete this round of plastic figure stands without a mention for the Warlord Games stand. You’ll recall that their figures – particularly their Prussian Landwehr – have come in for short shrift on this blog. And rightly so: these figures are poorly researched, inaccurately portrayed and clumsily sculpted. However, here too, I detect signs of improvement. The Warlord Games Russian figures are a step in the right direction and they’re now working on French. Also, yesterday was the first opportunity I’ve had to see some of their prone Prussian Landwehr casualty figures painted, based and in the display case. I still see lots of weaknesses (the huge hands make me judder) but whoever they’ve got doing their painting is making the very best of his raw material. If I were Warlord Games, I’d make sure of continuing to use that painter!

One slightly tongue-in-cheek parting shot for Warlord Games though: I’d recommend a bit more sanity checking of figure poses and a quiet word with your designer. The Russian command pack includes an er… “interestingly” posed drummmer. He’s drumming with one hand while using the other hand to hold his kiwer tucked under his arm. Now, people, just try doing that yourselves for a few moment and see how you get on. I know it might seem like a picturesque pose for a command vignette but it just isn’t humanly feasible.

As usual, we bumped into many friends from across the country and beyond. It was a pleasure to see Barry Hilton hosting the Wargames Illustrated Crimean War game. The terrain for this games was superbly put together by Dave Bodley, the chap who runs Grand Manner Buildings. I always like to see terrain that gets away from the flat topology of the tabletop to the contours of the real world. A lovely job which you can expect to see featured heavily in an imminent edition of Wargames Illustrated.

I also popped by David Imrie and Andrew Taylor’s Romans vs Celts demo game. They looked really busy with interested viewers so I didn’t get time to chat but I admired the very high quality of the figure painting and was reminded how small can be beautiful. The terrain would have comfortably fitted into many a living room and the number of figures, mostly individually based, required for an absorbing evening’s gaming wasn’t too prohibitive. I’m always going to be a fan of “big battalions” for Napoleonics but this game did set me wondering about a small skirmish side-project. Maybe I’ll have to look at those Sharp Practice rules…

Finally, a few words about shopping. Given the length of the queue, I strongly suspect that many traders are feeling the warm afterglow of financial success. And that’s absolutely fine by me. It’s just that two of the things I was hoping to be able to buy on the day eluded me. Once again, I couldn’t find a single trader that stocked Andrea paints. Now I know I can buy them online but there’s nothing like shaking the bottles and holding them up to the light before you part with you cash. Secondly, much as I like Litko laser-cut bases, I was hoping to find a UK retailer that would be cheaper and quicker to deal with. Maybe my standards are too exacting: ideally I want 1.5 mm or 2mm thick plywood, laser-cut and I want particular dimensions. Warbases was the closest I came: their bases are 2mm thick but I’d have to specially order the sizes I want and they specialise in MDF. Now, before you all start suggesting suppliers (oh, go on then), I just want to point out that I do already have a lead – apparently Fenris Games does 1.5mm thick lasercut plywood bases.

So that’s it for another year – I seem to have been so busy on the day that I didn’t even give the painting competition more than a cursory glance. If you know where I can see photos of the entries and winners, let me know.

Posted in Calpe Towers, Clubs and Shows, Forward Patrol | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments »

Article available for download

Posted by Martin on May 1, 2010

I’m delighted to announce that my article about building a late-Naoploeonic Prussian army that originally appeared in Wargames Illustrated 268 is now available for you to download for free from BfK. My thanks to Dan and his colleagues at the magazine for granting permission for this to happen.

As with any article you write, things happen to it during the production process so that the final, edited version is different to the one originally submitted. I’m not complaining because such changes are usually to do with professional quality control and add polish to the finished item. However, on re-reading the published version of the article, I think it’ll be helpful for me to add a few explanatory notes.

The main clarification I’d like to make concerns the example Orders of Battle in the article. The guys at Wargames Illustrated did some lovely pictorial representations of these rather than print my rather prosaic text. These are great but did lead to some questions about the details of the brigade structures, so here’s some more specific detail to accompany them.

Firstly, von Zieten’s Upper Silesian Brigade serving with Blucher’s Second Corps during the Spring 1813 campaign. The OOB is as follows:

  • Silesian grenadier battalion.
  • First Silesian infantry regiment (three battalions).
  • Second Silesian infantry regiment (two battalions).
  • One battalion from the Lieb regiment.
  • Two companies from the Silesian Schutzen battalion.
  • Neumark dragoon regiment (four squadrons).
  • First Silesian hussar regiment (two squadrons).
  • Second Silesian hussar regiment (two squadrons).
  • Foot artillery battery No. 11.
  • Foot artillery battery No. 13.
  • Horse artillery battery No. 9.

Secondly, von Kraft’s 6th Brigade serving with Bulow’s Third Corps during the Autumn 1813 campaign:

  • Colberg Infantry Regiment (three battalions).
  • 9th Reserve Infantry Regiment (three battalions).
  • 1st Neumark Landwehr Infantry Regiment (four battalions).
  • 1st Pommeranian Landwehr Cavalry Regiment (four squadrons).
  • Foot artillery battery No. 16.

Next, von Kraft’s 6th infantry brigade serving with Borstel’s second corps in 1815:

  • 9th (Colberg) Infantry Regiment (three battalions).
  • 26th (Elbe) Infantry Regiment (three battalions).
  • 1st Elbe Landwehr Regiment (three battalions).

And finally, the 3rd cavalry brigade serving with Borstel’s second corps in 1815:

  • 4th Kurmark Landwehr Cavalry Regiment (six squadrons).
  • 5th Kurmark Landwehr Cavalry Regiment (four squadrons).
  • 4th Elbe Landwehr Cavalry Regiment (six squadrons).

Secondly, a few people have asked me about the “Painting Your Prussians” panel. I’d like to clarify that I didn’t write that section or paint the 15mm figures featured in it. So I can’t really provide helpful answers about the paints and techniques used. If you want to know how I paint 28mm Prussians, the answer is simple: watch this space! I (fairly) regularly write posts about what I’m painting, my techniques and the paint, brushes and other equipment I use. And, perhaps foolishly, I aim to include work-in-progress photos where possible.

Thirdly, I devoted a section of the article to the discussion of how many wargames rulesets don’t do justice to the Prussian army – especially in terms of command and control. In general, I stand by that argument but now that I’m becoming increasingly familiar with the Republic to Empire rules, I feel the need to say some more about how these particular rules treat Prussian forces. I won’t do that in this posting simply because of time constraints at the time of writing but I promise to devote a post to this topic in the near future.

Posted in Announcements, Commissions, Reading List | Tagged: , , | 7 Comments »

Hot off the presses

Posted by Martin on January 22, 2010

Wargames Illustrated 268

Wargames Illustrated 268

E-mail tonight from Dan at Wargames Illustrated to tell me that Issue 268 is printed. As if you’ve forgotten, that’s the issue that contains my long-in-the-gestation article about collecting a late Napoleonic Prussian wargaming army. Dan’s dropping a copy of the magazine in the post to me and I just can’t wait to see what the finished article looks, smells and tastes like. Let me know if you see it before me!

Oh yeah, and there are some other articles in this issue. Something vague about Operation Market Garden, an interview with somebody or the other and a few reviews of some non-descript books and miniatures. Did I mention my article? 🙂 More seriously, there is another item of interest to BfK readers: a review of Barry’s Republic to Empire rules.

Posted in Announcements, Commissions | Tagged: , | 8 Comments »