Thursday, 2 December 2010

Foundry Miniatures 'Indian Mutiny' models

I recently attended the Foundry Miniatures open day where I picked up around 40 of these Indian Warriors for a bargain price. Above are the first three to come off the painting table. A warrior commander and his two followers. They're nice models and have proved to be quick and easy to paint. I've gone for a black undercoat this time, with a flat colour and one highlight. I like the variation in dress and makes a change from batch painting all those French Napoleonics.

I also bought the Foundry sourcebook 'The British in India' (slightly dented copy for a pound!). Great reading and quite invaluable as I'm a newcomer to that period. I likewise purchased some British Infantry in Airpipe Helmets, plus some in flannel shirts. I'm assuming from the source text that British dress and headgear could be quite varied. Hopefully I'll be able to field these two units alongside each other without being too historically inaccurate? If anyone knows any different then please feel free to comment.

I'm also thinking of buying the 'Sharp Practice' rules. I played these with an Indian Mutiny scenario when I first joined the local wargames club and thoroughly enjoyed it. As yet I haven't come across any other skirmish type rulesets for 28mm Indian Mutiny, but again if anyone can suggest any I'll definitely check them out.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

15mm ECW - Battle of Roundway Down (Fire and Fury Rules)

Fought on the 13th July 1643 near Devizes in wiltshire, it pitched the Royalist forces of Lord Wilmot against the Parliamentarian forces of Sir William Waller. In this game we used the Fire and Fury Rules as a basis, but converted by a couple of club members to cover specifically the English civil War. Having never read or played the original F and F rules I couldn't comment on what the differences were.
A large part of the cavalry of both forces were facing each other on the Royalist right flank - with only a couple of cavalry regiments placed on the left. I was intrigued as to how this would develop given some hefty opposition in the form of Parliament armoured cavalry ('lobsters') and dragoons etc. Infantry were heavily concentrated in the center.
I'd played one game of 28mm rules for ECW before and completely neglected the abilities of pikemen (thinking firepower/musketry could carry the day). Darren, my Royalist colleague in this battle, advised me a little more on how pikemen and musketry worked together. Pikemen being the "shock troops" in this instance.
As the cavalry collided on the right it struck me how units could become easily disordered in these rules. Not essentially an immediate defeat for any unit experiencing it (as they could still charge etc if they passed the next command roll) - but experiencing successive low dice rolls could seriously put you in the crap. This is exactly what happened with ourselves, as our initial victorious charges started to disintegrate as the enemy began to rally and then counter-charge.
The reverse on the other hand happened with the infantry. The Royalists experienced some ferocious fire as they pressed forwards but only became disordered without losing any casualties. As the enemy then charged into us the minus points to the die roll during melee made uneasy viewing. However, luck shined on us this rare occasion and a high 9 to the attackers 3 pushed them back with a number of dead.
Due to the innacuracy of musket fire during this period 6 inches is counted as long range, whilst just 2 inches is short. This means getting up close and personal for effective firing. At which point your pikemen have to be ready to get stuck in. Also, having supporting lines gives some +'s to your die rolls. We had one regiment in single line (pikemen in the middle) with another regiment in line behind less than 1 inch away which proved to be sound advice.
Figures photographed above are mainly Essex Miniatures (courtesy of Chris).

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Military Book Shopping on the Cheap!

For convenience, I'd always used Amazon and other online retailers when it came to books. Why trudge the dreary rainsoaked streets of Leicestershire and pay over the odds at Waterstones? However, I've now gone back to the high street after discovering what treasures can be picked up for a pittence at local charity shops! The books in the photo were all gathered from two of these shops over the period of a week, the average price being around £2.50 (even for the hardbacks). I was really pleased to see Richard Holmes 'Redcoat' and Mark Urban 'Rifles' as these were ones I'd normally get over the web at far greater cost. One of the outlets appears to restock the shelves of their military section every couple of days - which suggests they must have an absolute aladdins cave in the back somewhere.

Anyway, if you're ever strapped for cash they're always worth a visit. The best in the UK seem to be War on Want, British Heart Foundation and Oxfam (who take time to place all their titles in specific sections - better than having to wade through mountains of Jilly Cooper novels etc).

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Wagram - Battle Report. 28mm Napoleonics

On October 24th last, Quorn Wargames put on the Battle of Wagram (Napoleon rules). Fought around the town of the same name, each army had marched through fog to their positions unaware (initially) of where the enemy lay. As a French player I was told by Gary (the C in C) that "saxons were in the village" and that we were to support an attack by another French division on a village perched atop the heights on the right flank. When the fog lifted however, it revealed a different story! In fact the saxons had vacated the town hastily pursued by the Austrians.

Rather than a defensive tactic, the Austrian players made a much more aggressive play and came straight at us. As Gary desperately ran around changing orders I watched in horror as my division drifted off to the right and a large gap started to open up in our lines. Thankfully I was given what I needed and changed direction to meet the looming attack (whilst hoping that a couple of Bavarian regiments under the command of Ian on my left, would give me some relief). I blasted a good few of the Austrians with my 12lb cannons, but couldn't cover myself quick enough to stop a cavalry charge on the other side which decimated the artillery. This kept me in square for most of the ensuing game unfortunately. Shot ragged by Austrian Jaegers, and seeing them wheeling up their guns to finish me off I was lucky enough to see the Bavarians start to push them away.

Meanwhile on the right flank there appeared to be a huge cavalry clash as our dashing horsemen controlled by Darren hammered the enemy lines. After some spectacular charges the Austrians fell back and left the way open to capture the heights. On our left flank however it appeared slow going as our Frenchies struggled forward under two batteries of Austrian guns, whilst ours didn't get the necessary die rolls to maximize their effectiveness.

Then to our consternation a division of Landwehr with lancers in support appeared behind our lines. The latter of which engaged our own cavalry in that section from behind.

When we decided to finish the day it was still too close to call. We had the heights whilst the enemy had the town. Their right flank had completely collapsed, but our left was in serious trouble and could easily face the same fate.

The photos above are from the day, and also show some of the miniatures used (the Landwehr look particularly nice I think).

Thursday, 14 October 2010

French vs Austrians Battle Report

Another evening of Napoleonics. This time French vs Austrians. In the middle picture you can see the small town held by the Austrians (mainly Landwehr) and some Jaegers thrown out in front. We had sizeable French force with a cavalry brigade in reserve. Although looking quite unbalanced, the Austrians had the chance to field their own much larger reserves at any time - and likely as not to appear behind us!
The first couple of turns saw the French wheel up their artillery in the center and start blattering away. One battery aimed at the barricade on the main street and another firing canister to scare away the Jaegers skirmishing to the left. A large hill to the right had an Austrian battery and some cavalry perched on top. As the French columns pushed forwards they were saved by some unlucky shooting/poor dice rolls whilst the French cavalry managed to receive their opposites charge and push them back over the other side of the hill. The French center (covered by artillery) made a rush into the village as the Landwehr vacated their barricade. Surprisingly however, they reformed and charged back in causing some serious casualties and pushing us back. Luckily the French left had by now circled the town and was likely to rectify the situation keeping the buildings firmly in our grasp.
More consternation was provoked when the Austrian reserves turned up behind us to our left-rear. The cannons that had originally faced the village were redeployed to face this new threat in double quick time, and our reserves of cavalry who had been hovering around for just such an eventuality managed to charge in with half their force (the other half standing around scratching themselves due to a failed command roll!). The end result was the Austrian artillery taking flight and leaving their infantry feeling the pressure of two batteries aimed at them and two brigades of cavalry turning their way. Not good.
We used the 'Napoleon' ruleset. The figures were mainly Perrys and Foundry. I took some pics of Simons nicely painted Austrians which I've also included here.

Friday, 8 October 2010

ACW - Chickamauga Photos.

Last Wednesday was the first time I'd ever wargamed the American Civil War. We used the 'Johnny Reb' rules which I found quite easy to pick up as we went along. The combat was fast...and extremely bloody. I guess that's also an accurate historical reflection. Firepower being the key thing here. The top photo shows Chris' Union men lurking in the woodline to meet our Confederate forces advancing up the road. I was a bit concerned about our starting point because it looked like we were going to be boxed-in from the outset. Our objective being a small crossroads just beyond, I could see Chris holding us quite easily. The second turn only seemed to confirm that as he blasted my artillery train and killed my horses before I could unlimber in the position I wanted. At the same time our left flank was raked with fire inflicting serious casualties. However, we managed to press the centre of his line and also caught a couple of his units with flank fire who were hanging a bit too far forward. The guns, even though stuck a distance back, managed to open up on the treeline and support our units moving forward who also unleashed their first fire at close range (giving us some nice bonus points). It ended with the Union army losing a third of their number and falling back.
Figures are by Battle Honors and Old Glory.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

French Napoleonic Mounted Colonel

Above is the completed Victrix mounted French Colonel I've been working on over the last few days. I did the horse using layers - Vallejo Neutral Grey to start and then adding a slight bit of white for each consecutive highlight. I decided against using the Army Painter on this because I really wanted him to stand out. The flock and gravel are Galeforce Nine, except for the sprouting grass which is courtesy of Colgate (the bristles from an old toothbrush!).

Thursday, 23 September 2010

28mm Napoleonics 'Republic to Empire' Rules. British Vs French

We had our first grapple with the 'Republic to Empire' rules at the Quorn Wargames Club ( yesterday. I was feeling slightly daunted to begin with, this being my third introduction to a Napoleonic ruleset in just a few weeks - the previous being 'Napoleon' and 'General de Brigade'. I was actually quite surprised how quickly we began to pick it up. The point system for actions which was decided with the rolling of 4 average dice each turn made the system less rigid. So for example you could divide up 14 points with moving, changing formation, issuing new orders etc. Obviously there were still some restrictions (as experienced by Chris who voiced his frustration at not being able to unlimber his British 9lb cannons and fire at the Frenchies rapidly advancing up the hill towards him in the same turn - something only Horse Artillery and 6lb cannons could do). I also liked how swiftly we could make it across the board and begin to engage. Brilliant for a good size game that you could easily complete within 4-5 hours.

Another very good aspect was artillery fire. First shot on a new target was inflicted with a few minus points to the die roll, unlike in other games where you'd get plus points. It was deduced that the former was more realistic in that you'd have to range in the cannons with the first few wild shots, and then later increase your accuracy.

The second photo above shows another example of rash heroics (or "Raglan's Blunder") as the British cavalry decided to charge enemy artillery from the front. Accompanied by the immortal words "well, it might just work..." these chaps unfortunately were forced into a rout back to the medical tent to have the canister shot removed from their posterior.

It was an all round great evening, with lots of fun and a nice ruleset which deserves more testing and exploration in the future.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

French Line Artillery 12lb Cannons and Crew

Finished these yesterday, just in time for our first game of 'Republic to Empire' at Quorn Wargames Club. The crew and pieces are all Foundry Miniatures. 12lb cannons and personnel all late line artillery in full dress uniform. I did some digging around in a couple of books (primarily New Vanguard 066 - Napoleons Guns 1792-1815 (1) Field Artillery) and found some pictures I managed to work from. The one thing that slightly threw me was the single fringed eppaulette on the left shoulder of the officer figures. All the pictures I found displayed both eppaulettes - maybe someone could enlighten me on why there may be just one?
The paints I used were all vallejo, using Dark Prussian Blue for the main uniform. The wood on the gun carriage was painted in Olive Drab with the metal details picked out in black (as shown in the New Vanguard book). I also used Army Painter again, but this time using a brush rather than the dip method.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

15mm Napoleonic Battle ('General de Brigade')

The photographs above were taken from last night's battle at the Wargames Club using the 'General de Brigade' Rules for 15mm. It was a scenario taken from the rulebook and set during the Peninsular Campaign. Main feature was a huge hill with a horde of French perched on top and a smaller British force being tasked to hold them until reinforcements arrive later in the game and give them a bloody nose. The French were to wait until the weather conditions lifted (fog - lifted on turn 17 or on the roll of a 6 on d6) and then withdraw from the field.
The second picture shows the moment British skirmishers make contact with the French behind cover just on the crest. This particular British unit showed its mettle by later receiving fire from French muskets in the front and left flank, along with cannon on its right. A 'refuse flank order' had meant it couldn't step back and reform, but had to slug it out mercilessly. To their credit they made the French pay heavily, and only dispersed once they'd reached 50% casualties. An action that someone said would definitely have been recorded in regimental history!

The Foundry 12lb French cannons and crew are finally on the painting table. I'll post pictures after the weekend.....

Monday, 6 September 2010

French Line Infantry Completed.

Today I managed to complete my first unit of French Line Infantry (1807-1812). These are the plastic Victrix ones I started a while back. Time hasn't exactly been on my side, but I've usually found a couple of hours a night at least. Looking back I'd say having to assemble these does take patience and occasionally whilst cropping away at a growing pile of arms and knapsacks I began to wonder if I should've paid the extra and bought a metal army instead. Nevertheless, I'm really happy with the finished item. I've two boxes of Perry's cavalry (Hussars and Dragoons) plus three metal cannons from Foundry, so maybe I'll set to work on these next.
The local Wargames club ( have hosted some great evenings over the last few weeks. Some standout battles were the 'Valley of Tears' (arab israeli war, using Battlefront rules) and one set during the English Civil War featuring Montrose Irish against Parliament forces using '1644' rules. Next week will feature 15mm Napoleonics (General De Brigade). I'll try and remember my camera this time!

Friday, 20 August 2010

German 15mm Panther A's.

Apologies for the slight delay in updates (I was away on holiday). A couple of nights before I left I put the finishing touches to the remainder of my Panther A tanks. I'd only completed one previously and the rest were kicking around waiting to join their chum.
As with most of my Flames of War stuff, I do a black undercoat first. Next I block brushed these in middlestone yellow, then added some white to the mix for highlights. The tracks are drybrushed in gunmetal - sometimes covered with black ink to pick out the detail. The camouflage is a simple one. Not having ever used a spraygun (I should perhaps give it a whirl. But as they say, I'm an old dog and it's a very new trick) I opt for cutting an old paintbrush down to a stub and then 'stippling' the camo pattern. Given that camouflage is rarely neat, and its intention is to break up the outline of an object, it seems to work quite well. The colours I used were a Humbrol Green (102) and a 70/30 mix of GW Dark Flesh and Bestial Brown.
These fellas have yet to be tested on the battlefield (and they're expensive points-wise) but they're a nice addition nonetheless. As a footnote, every time I look at these Panthers I'm reminded of reading Sven Hassel books while I was at school.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

U.S. Airbourne vs Panzergrenadiers: Cauldron Battle.

Last night's battle saw my Panzergrenadiers pitched against Kev's U.S. Airbourne. The Cauldron scenario in the Flames of War rulebook had the defender protecting two objective markers in the centre of the board. I was the attacker whilst Kev set up half his army in this area - leaving some in reserve and one unit in ambush.

There was plenty of armour clashes as his Cromwell's sprang the ambush on my Panzers. Luckily I countered by bringing on my Stug G assault guns and caught him in the flank. One of the above pictures is right at that precise moment, with a Cromwell in the background 'brewing up'.
Unfortunately he wreaked his revenge by pounding my Panzers across the other side in a similar move (the hunter becoming the hunted so to speak!). He then kept my Stug's at bay with bazookas dug-in along the treeline, although I did manage to throw him off the objective at one point in an assault, he bailed all three of my vehicles with the crews doing a runner. My artillery also gave him a bloody nose by covering the advance to the objective and making sure his infantry in the nearby buildings couldn't get close enough to use their Gammon Bombs.

The final round came upon us, and it was (for me) a case of being "so near, yet so far". Well done to Kev for a staunch defence!

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Sons of Simon De Montfort Wargames Club

Last night was the second week I'd attended the local Wargames club in Quorn (see their website Sons of Simon De Montfort). The picture above is of our game using the ruleset 'Napoleon'. I was quite impressed with how quick and easy they were to understand. We got quite a solid game within the three hours we had, utilizing Ian's French and Simon's Austrian's. In the photograph, you can see the moment when the French Infantry fell victim to the Austrian cannons in the centre. What isn't shown is the later cavalry clash as the French Hussars attempted to roll up the Austrian left flank. Despite these heroics the French were finally flung back in disarray.

The French were mainly Victrix and Perry's while the Austrian's (pictured at the top) were mainly Foundry Miniatures. The paint job on the latter were superb, apparently done by a guy in Sri Lanka!

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Undercoating Plus French Captain and Line Infantry

Completed the French Line Infantry Captain and his compatriots above. The ghostly apparitions in the background are the ones I undercoated this evening. One thing I noticed when using the Army Painter Base White Matt Primer spray, is that it's leaving a rather chalky finish. I'm not sure why this is happening (any suggestions would be appreciated) but if it continues I'll probably switch back to using GW sprays.

After gluing the assembled models on lollipop sticks, I've been blu-tacking them to a small upturned biscuit tin. This enables me to hold the thing from beneath and move it around as I spray. I've found it quite handy in being able to get into the difficult areas (under arms etc) and achieve complete coverage.

Some of the books I brought back from London include 'Toulon 1793 - Napoleon's first great victory' (Osprey), and 'Fighters Against Fascism - British Heroes of the Spanish Civil War' by Max Arthur (Collins). The Waterstones Bookshop just off Picadilly Circus is the biggest of its kind in Europe and boasts an awe inspiring military section.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Jagdpanther - Imperial War Museum

Photograph from my visit today. As anyone knows, the Imperial War Museum in London is a must see. I'm sure some of you have been to the place a thousand times before, but I thought I'd post this up here. The picture beneath shows the three holes made in the right side armour which must have disabled it. Not pictured is a slightly larger piercing in the vehicles right corner rear.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Porte Aigle and Drummer plus tips on using Army Painter

I was looking forwards to doing these, and managed to get them finished yesterday. However the Army Painter was a bit of a challenge.

After dipping (using Strong Tone) , I've found that they need to be given a good shake at least six times. Just three or four still leaves too much residue in my opinion. Despite this, one of the models in the above case appeared to have some 'gathering' at the back of the legs. This may have been due to the warm temperature at the time (AP gets sticky and solidifies fairly quickly, even though overall drying time takes between 12-24 hours). Also I'd noticed uneven patches on the Porte Aigle pole and had to repaint it later on. As you can see, brighter colours become significantly duller, so I made things like flesh etc a tad lighter on the base coats. I'm ok with the final product but I'm aware I'm sacrificing quality in favour of time.

I've bought a box of Victrix British Peninsular so I'm considering doing washes next time.

Off to London tomorrow to visit the Imperial War Museum. I'll see what inspiration I can pick up along the way....

Sunday, 27 June 2010

More Victrix French Infantry

Home from work early evening, and the living room was still quite well lit by sunshine so I moved all my painting gear in there for a while. Finished another unit of French Line Infantry. This time in firing positions. Also retouched the cockades I'd missed on some others.

On a slightly different note, I'd decided to play the Mel Gibson DVD 'The Patriot' in the background. I'd last caught some of it on TV a few years back, but was interrupted when I accidentally locked myself out of the house part way through. After finding a neighbour with a ladder and hauling myself through an upstairs window, I arrived back where I'd started only to catch the end credits rolling.

After viewing the film in its entirety I found I was quite disappointed by much of the Errol Flynn style swashbuckling and slo-mo action pieces. The Gibson character seemed to be some kind of mix between Patrick Henry and Jackie Chan. I'd read on the internet that many of the main characters in it were inspired by several different real life personalities from the period. Regarding other AWI related movies, I'd heard that the film 'The Crossing' (1999) about George Washington had some merit. So I'll maybe seek that out next.

I'd watched 'Braveheart' with the same raised eyebrow as I had The Patriot, especially since I'd read the James Mackay book 'William Wallace'. I remember viewing most of it through partially closed fingers and groaning loud enough to annoy the rest of my housemates who knew nothing of the background. The infamous 'Battle of Stirling Bridge' anyone? No, lets forget that. Actually we'll mix up the chronological order of actual events, dress them all in kilts and insert a pain inducing love story.

What gets me most, is that the true events these type of films nit pick from.....are actually a thousand times more awe inspiring than the Hollywood fantasy. The Scottish troops pulling down the Bridge behind the advancing British leaving much of their army stranded to its fate would have looked incredible. Wallace's imprisonment and escape (the British actually throwing his still living self from a castle wall into a garbage heap because they thought he'd starved to death in his cell) would likewise seem to be cinematic gold, surely?

Ok. Enough grumbling and more painting!

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Victrix Napoleonic French Infantry 1807-1812

I'd assembled these from the plastic kits. Bit tricky at times, and I needed to fill some of the gaps between body parts with modelling clay. I guess Napoleonics are considered to be the 'classic' wargaming figures. I'd always been impressed by their appearance in battle reports and magazines. Ranks of colourful soldiers, all ordered and marching off to either doom or victory!

Researching which colour scheme/uniform type I'd use was mind boggling. I knew French uniforms were many and varied from the period, but this had me racing backwards and forwards between the internet and the Osprey book I'd picked up (French Line Infantry. 1). I settled on 30th de Ligne as it seemed straightforward and had a colour picture of a sergeant in the middle pages. However, I'm still slightly lost as to how the Drummer and officer are meant to look. Any help on this part would be gratefully received.

As you can tell I'm a relative newcomer to the Napoleonic era and my only background prior to this was seeing the 1970 film 'Waterloo' and Ridley Scott's 'The Duellists'. So I'm definitely not quite knowledgable enough to quibble about the cut and colour of a Curaisseur's underpants at the moment (haha).

These were also the first figures I'd done in many years with a white underbase. Upon doing the basecoat I thought I was struggling somewhat until I read someone elses blog who described thinning down the paint 50/50 and doing washes. Allowing the colour to seep into the creases and joins. I found this a lot easier and obviously spent less time having to tidy the model between colours and coats.
When this was complete I steeled myself for a first attempt with the Army Painter dipping method. My first reaction after submerging them into what looked like crude oil was "I've made a bollocks of it". Giving it five or six shakes to remove the access calmed the nerves a bit and I left them to dry. Coming back a couple of hours later I was much more impressed. I've always been a fan of gloss varnish on models so I'm unsure about going over them with the Anti Shine spray at the moment. Anyway, I'll definitely stick to the Army Painter for the rest of these Frenchies.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Armoured Panzergrenadiers (Flames of War)

Pictured here are some of the final models I painted for a complete 1,750 point Flames of War Panzergrenadier Army.

The troops were painted using the Vallejo German Infantry Paint set. They were undercoated with black, then done in a base coat with highlights. I then decided on a Sumpftarn camouflage pattern (not sure if this is entirely accurate for Grenadiers, but I liked the result). After which I used a flat Earth on the base and then covered it in flock from Galeforce Nine.

The Panther A and Tiger IV were base coated in Vallejo Middle Stone Yellow then given a camo pattern using a Humbrol Green and a mix of Mahogany Brown and GW Scorched Earth.

In the Beginning.....

I was eleven years old when my aunt and uncle took me to Portsmouth to see some of the ships that had returned from the Falklands War. We’d stayed at another relatives Bed and Breakfast, and whilst there I’d wandered down the street one day and come across a shop selling metal model soldiers. Afterwards I went back to my uncle and talked enthusiastically of my great find. Being a provider of many fantastic birthday presents relating to military history over the years, he allowed my further indulgence with a five pound note. From what I remember I came away with a handful of Ottoman Turks – some on horseback along with a rather nifty looking standard bearer.

I’d loved my old plastic Airfix soldiers that filled my toybox at home. I’d spent many hours with a friend down the street digging bunkers and redoubts into my grandmother’s flower bed, and then pelting them with a fusilade of pebbles from our driveway. Likewise, when the winter months came along, arranging their massed ranks across the living room floor and imagining them storming the stony fortress of the fireplace surround.

These metal soldiers were however ‘the real deal’. Once I’d watched the film Young Winston when I’d had an afternoon off from school. Somewhere within it, was the scene of Churchill and his father looking down over a home made battlefield arrayed with such models. I was impressed with the seriousness they showed, and subsequent depictions from magazines and TV made me aware that there were rules on cannon fire, movement and morale that brought an element of realism to the affair. Up until that point the only realism my own plastic soldiers had experienced was the introduction of a Dinky Chieftain tank that allowed me to fire matchsticks at my HO/OO scale Highland Regiment.

My parents, always wary of what I was "spending all my money on next", greeted this foray with renewed scepticism. My step-mother mentioned the fact that they "didn’t do anything" – which was a direct comparison to my previous obsession with Star Wars toys. In her eyes at least the battery powered Imperial Troop Transporter barked out commands as it skitted its way across the kitchen lino. I tried desperately to explain that these metal (seemingly inert) little chaps actually stimulated more imagination. And anyway I still couldn’t accept that the final Star Wars film of that time (Return of the Jedi, 1983) had portrayed the battle hardened Stormtroopers being defeated by a population of cute looking teddy bears.

The local toyshop in my hometown of Melton Mowbray was called ‘Arbon and Watts’, and although packed out at the front with Fisher Price, it had a small cabinet of Citadel Miniatures. Despite being in the fantasy range, these held a similar appeal in the fact there was a newly released Wargame rulebook to go with it (Warhammer Fantasy Battles, First Edition – long before Games Workshop became a global conglomerate!). This started several years of collecting and wargaming in this genre, spurred on by quite a few school friends with enough bedroom space to lay several battle boards and requisite scenery. These games were usually huge events, lasting many days over the summer holidays. The principle seemed to be: "get everything you have on the board, then fight to the death". I seem to remember my Ottoman Turks even made a re-appearance. Probably wondering what the hell they were doing taking on an Orc War Wyvern.

As time went on there were a number of other distractions (primarily girls and punk rock) that led me to either sell what armies I’d collected or put them in the parents attic. Nevertheless, I’d still occasionally retreat to my room for a couple of days after buying the odd miniature. Happily sealing myself off from the world.

Present day and I’ve experienced an upsurge in enthusiasm. I’m partly blaming Harry Pearson’s excellent book ‘Achtung Scweinhund! – A Boy’s Own Story of Imaginary Combat’. Also, the appearance of a nice new shop nearby called ‘Wargames Inc’ (Loughborough) which has introduced me to Victrix and Flames of War figures, as well as allowing me to meet many other enthusiasts.