Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Painting 54mm plastics - a duffer's guide part 1

As regular readers will know, I have never laid any claim to any great talent on the painting front.  Though I can churn out toys in reasonable numbers.  But as Stalin said "quantity has a quality all of it's own."  And he should know.
Here then, following a flood of requests from at least three readers, is part one of my duffer's guide to painting 54mm plastic toy soldiers.  This post deals with preparing the figures for paint, which represents at least half the work.
Clean up the figures, trim away any excess plastic ans in required trim the bases to fit the stands you'll be using.
Wash the figures.  Put the kettle on and while it boils run a basin of warm water with washing up liquid.
 Fill a bowl or mug with boiling water and another with cold water.
May figures will have extremities which need straightening.  The bayonets of these CTS North Koreans are typical examples.
Using a set of tongs - ours are bamboo and normally serve to retrieve errant bakery products from the toaster - dunk a few figures at a time into...
 ...the boiling water.  The bent bits will straighten all by themselves.  This is also an opportunity to bend arms or legs to alter figure poses.
 Dunk the now very warm figures in the cold water for a few seconds.
Then chuck the figures in the soapy water.  Swiz them round a bit in the water as this will help de-grease the plastic.  I gather that some use a dishwasher for this purpose but ours never seems to have room!
Rinse off the soap using a colander and the kitchen tap..  Then tip them back in the basin and rinse off again.

 Finally tip the damp figures onto a tray covered with a clean towel and leave overnight to dry off.
After all this effort, and bearing in mind the kettle has boiled, it's now time for a nice mug of tea!  Make sure there are no toy soldiers in the cup first...

Monday, 16 October 2017

Birmingham Toy Soldier Show 2017

 Having missed this show in 2016 (I was in France instead), I was pleased to be able to attend it last Sunday.  As well as chatting to friends - John Curry, Mike Lewis, Anthony Morton - I picked up a few gems.
The six French gunners are nicely painted metal figures and set me back £20.  I have simply added my usual mdf bases and a coat of varnish.  They are posed here with a couple of  Armies in Plastic guns.

Eight nice cavalry were a mere £16.  Again I have based and varnished them after repainting the flaky swords.  The four above are Timpo, below are even rarer Dulcop figures.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Rapidly reorganising a rowdy rabble of Russians

In the aftermath of the Leipzig game I unpacked and then re-boxed all the toys I'd taken.  Packing up after a game - especially when it's mostly done by other people - always results in a degree of disorganisation.  None of this matters, though, as long as the toys are safe.  While I had the table covered in toys I had the presence of mind to take a few photos.  I'll leave it to you to decide if you are inspired or appalled! above  - Barclay de Tolly and Wittgenstein (great Russian names!) with four regiments of line infantry.
Barclay is a Supreme plastic figure and has real attitude.
Order being established.  One of these A4 size boxes accommodates two 18-man regiments.

As you might imagine I have a few of these boxes, so labelling them seems like a good plan.
Russian staff in their box but no doubt continuing the post-battle debate.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Bunker Hill

As I'm already a big fan of the Command & Colours series of games, when I heard that Tricorne, the version covering the American War of Independence had been published I didn't think too hard before placing my order.  As regular readers will know, I view C&C as a toy soldier game and play the Napoleonic and ACW versions with 15mm toys and the Ancients wersion with 25mm toys - all on Hexon terrain with it's 4-inch/10cm hexes.
All very well, but I don't have any suitable toys for AWI and any I do paint will be in 54mm.  Then I remembered my Irregular 2mm blocks which I originally acquired about 15 years ago for use with Richard Brooks's Minischlacht and Terrible Swift Rule games.  By re-purposing most of the figures I had already painted I managed to cobble together enough troops to play the (chronologically) first scenario.
Here is the game setup.  Graham led the wicked rebels (left) while John commanded the colonial oppressors.
Some of the terrain was a bit of a lash-up.  Here are the Continental earthworks on Breed's Hill.  And I forgot some of the actual hill.  Ah well.
The British left.  While the bases of the Continentals were edged in pale blue, the Brits used red.  Light troops have a green stripe on the left of the base, regulars blue, militia yellow.
The woods were made from cork tile with green felt glued atop.  They looked surprisingly effective.

Continental riflemen skulking in Charleston.
HMS Lively - a 20-gun vessel bombarded Charleston at one point.  This is a 30+ year-old 1/3,000 model kindly provided by John.
As the enemy were largely dug in, the Brits decided to advance.



So how different is Tricorne from other C&C games?  Surprisingly so.  It does a very neat job of replicating the flavour of linear warfare.  Infantry unite exchange fire in the hope that the enemy will run away!  Rolling a flag on the combat dice means, as usual, that the target must retreat (unless supported, with leader etc) but then the retreating unit rolls again.  This time a failure to roll a flag means that the unit keeps on running.  Not that you'd know it from my bungled explanation but it does get pretty tense!
Play proceeded fairly slowly as we adapted to the new game systems and troop types.  We were hampered by the absence of Martin and Jerry who - the only ones who can be relied upon to read and understand rules!  We wound up at a convenient point with the Brits trailing by 2 banners to 4 and accepting that they weren't going to win.


Thursday, 5 October 2017

Unblemished Blenheim

Posts have been rather few of late due to work pressures, so to keep things going here is another offering from the apparently bottomless pit that is the Partizan 'Plane Purchase.
This Airfix Blenheim is in pretty good shape so following a light dusting I have simply varnished over the decals. Once again the model is a tribute to its original builder.
UX-A represents a machine of 82 Sqn based at RAF Watton in Norfolk. It was shot down on 7 June 1940.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Russian Chasseurs

This was the final unit I managed to finish in time for last weekend's Leipzig game. These are the cheap and superficially quite nasty 'Supreme' figures but I think they're actually rather nice. They certainly paint up quite well. These chaps are finished as Chasseurs in overall green with a racy red stripe to the trousers.




Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Leipzig on the Lawn


Der Tag has come and gone and what an splendid day it was!  11 players, 2,000+ 54mm toy soldiers and even the weather co-operated.  My heartfelt thanks to all those who participated, lent toys or helped with domestic logistics.

The cast list was as follows - click on the names for details of their other crimes.
Umpires - PW and myself
Combat photographer - Bob Cordery
The French
The Corsican Ogre - David Crook
Murat - Eric Kemp 
Ney - Mike Lewis
The Allies
Schwarzenberg - Brian Carrick
Blucher - Russell King
Bernadotte - Conrad Kinch
Barclay de Tolly - Mike Snape
Wittgenstein - Jack Wright

What follows are purely my photos - taken between umpiring and other essential tasks such as chatting to players.  See also the blog posts from Bob here and Brian here.
 As usual, clicking to increase the image size will save your eyesight.
Prussian cavalry & Jagers.  Given that I had only 6 Prussian cavalry for the 2015 Waterloo game, this force - mostly from ebay purchases is quite impressive!
 The city of Leipzig
  It's a law that at least one village in any Napoleonic game is made of of Belgian farm buildings...
 Eric's rather nicer French cavalry.  Generally acclaimed as the best painted figures of the game.
  The Russians plod forward. 
 Leipzig featured a rather splendid cathedral 
 Russian infantry and cavalry advance
 While the Russians were heavily engaged, the Austrians appeared and formed a big square.
 More Austrians.  The dark bases are my chaps, Brian brought the others. 
 The thin blue line?
 A slightly thicker blue line faces off the Austrians.
 The Russians forces included these newly arrived (from eBay) Grenadiers. 
Note the British Rocket Troop top right.
 Lots of Russian cavalry.



 The Rocket troop feel victim to a stray French artillery round - and that was Britain out of Europe
 Russians and French fighting in a village.  These are plastic model railway buildings by Faller and similar - picked up while on holiday for a handsome 3 Euro each.
 French cavalry (right) trying to sweep round the flank...
 ...and Russian cavalry preparing to stop them.
 The resulting melee saw the Russians gain the upper hand, with the surviving French being forced back on Leipzig.
 As the Russian steamroller gathered pace the French were forced into some innovative formations.
 Back came the French cavalry for another go, this time with artillery support.
 Party popper shrapnel in action
 It emptied a couple of saddles.
 By now Marshal Murat was overseeing things at the front.


 A French square being assaulted by Russians.  Lots of Russians.
 As is historically appropriate the Russians seemed to have ever more troops.
 Murat dodging grapeshot.
 The main Russian column heading for Leipzig.
By now the Emperor had boarded his coach and was heading for Dresden.  French rear echelon units were also moving out.
Finally, I'll borrow one of Bob's photos.  While the Russians had been heavily engaged from the start and the Austrians kept Ney at bay, it was of course some cheeky Prussians who sneaked through the crumbling walls of Leipzig and claimed the city as their own.  
As the umpires announced the game's end, nearby church bells began to ring- what a moment!