Sunday 26 September 2021

Show report - The Midlands Toy Soldier Show 2021


I’m not long back from this show - my first in two years!  Because of 1. COVID, 2. A change of venue, and 3. Fuel shortages caused by idiotic panic-buying, I had expected a quieter day than the old Birmingham show. And indeed it was. I’ve no idea what the door numbers were (or indeed used to be) but I know that at least a couple of expected traders didn’t show. 

Anyway, on to the good news. I had trouble free journeys in both directions - it’s about 70 miles and took 1hr 20 each way. Parking was easy - plenty of it just across the street and free. The lack of crowds made it easier to browse and allowed more opportunities to chat to traders - notably Patrick, Steve and Fred. 

So a nice morning out at a show which I hope survives and is better attended next year. 

The rather striking venue. 
A decent sized hall which could easily have accommodated a few more traders. 
‘Enough!’ I hear you cry. ‘What did you buy?’  Among other things some painted metal figures.  This rather charming box of French owes me less than £20!  

£2 secured this Irregular Miniatures Spanish Civil War militiaman. 
I couldn’t resist these khaki-clad Australian lancers.

I had a long chat with Patrick from the British Toy Soldier Co. Among his stock were some figures from deleted sets including these lovely Great War Scottish infantry for £5 each. 

Friday 24 September 2021

Midlands Toy Soldier Show

If you're at a loose end this Sunday (26th September) you might do worse than visit the Midlands Toy Soldier Show.  Previously the Birmingham show, this has now moved to a new venue in Stoke.  For me the travel time will be similar but without the joy of driving through central Birmingham.

Because of Covid cancellations, this will be my first show since Birmingham in 2019 so I am very much looking forward to it!  If you will be there please let me know in a comment.

After many great years at Edgbaston, the show relocates in 2021 to an even better venue in an incredibly accessible location.  The King's Hall in Stoke-on-Trent offers the perfect setting for the show.  A stunning building with great facilities, parking & transport links.



King's Hall, Kingsway, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffs, ST4 1JH

By Road;

  • 3.5 miles from M6 J15

  • 10 mile from M6 J16

  • Large car park directly opposite the venue (currently free parking on Sundays)


By Rail:

  • 700m walk from a Stoke-On-Trent station

  • London Euston from 1hr 33mins direct

  • Birmingham Int. from 58mins direct

  • Manchester Picadilly from 53mins direct

More on the show website LINK

Here are just a few of the delights I picked up at previous shows

Wednesday 22 September 2021

Fort Fisher - recommended reading

After the game we discussed books.  I had been brandishing and quoting from the Fonvielle book during the game and I don't hesitate to recommend it.  It contains a lot of research, period quotes and photos and some fabulous maps.  Despite it's weighty content it remains an engaging read.

This was my main reference for the game...
...and part of it's excellent map of the fort.

Pete mentioned a couple of books he has on ACW combined ops and sent me this photo:

A couple of the players asked if I could recommend a single-volume history of the ACW.  There are several well-know such books but this is one I picked up a few years ago - it's a very good read.

And of course I took the opportunity to mention the splendid and lavishly illustrated Golden Book:

I first saw this mentioned only a couple for years ago on Mannie Gentile's blog - click here to read his post on the book.

Friday 17 September 2021

Fort Fisher revisited part 5 - redoubts and regrets?


The US infantry storm ashore under the dubious cover of the monitor's guns...
...but the grapeshot kept on coming.  Luckily it was mostly inaccurate.
In the distance some Reb infantry have at least appeared.  Too late to save the day?

Having captured a couple of batteries a US regiment stormed across the ramparts  - both side's infantry squared up.
The double battery continued to spew forth party popper grapeshot.
Egged on by Colonel Lamb - perched atop the lookout tower - the CS infantry exchanged a withering hail of musketry with their opposite numbers.
Endgame.  As the double battery was about to fall and Reb infantry were being listed as 'out of stock' we drew a veil over proceedings.  We agreed that the Yanks still had enough strength to overcome the few remaining defenders but that without a fleet they were vulnerable to any CS counterattack - should such an event be forthcoming.
So the fort has fallen but at the cost of the US fleet.  It's not looking good for Adm. Porter!

As always, the game was made a success by the efforts of the players - thanks chaps!

Thursday 16 September 2021

Fort Fisher revisited part 4 - that sinking feeling


As we return to the action US troops have been lowered into little boats for the hazardous landing part of the operation.

Best photo of the day (by Russell).  The brave lads set out in their boat.

As it turned out, this was quite a good time to leave the fleet as a ship soon foundered.
Mind you, it wasn't all plain sailing (sorry!) in the assault boats.  One took a direct hit from a Reb gun and Sharkie was soon on the scene!
By now the fleet was a shambles, with two ships sunk, a third full of holes and of course only one out of three ironclads still in action.
Under the guns of the last (and cheapest!) monitor the Yanks storm ashore... be met by a hail of party-popper grapeshot!

Meanwhile, Cdr Rhind, having been sent back to the Portland by an irate Adm Porter has succeeded in detonating the charges.  At this point we all obligingly shouted "bang!" 

So, there are troops ashore but an increasingly well-fed shark.  Stay tuned for the thrilling next (and final) episode!

Saturday 11 September 2021

Girls with guns!

Yes, I thought that would get your attention. You naughty lot!  These are 54mm Basevich figures which I think were bought at the Plastic Warrior show in 2019.  All these er, ladies serve in the Soviet Army.  They are lovely figures which I have finished in my usual ‘toy soldier’ style.  I couldn’t resist naming all four. Which is your favourite?  I’m voting for Tatania.  

Galina the grenadier 
Svetlana the sniper
Tatania the traffic controller
Marta the machine gunner

Friday 10 September 2021

Fort Fisher revisited part 3 - time and tide

The US players were Jerry, Martin and Tim C, the Rebs were Pete and Russell.  I provided most of the toys and Russell kindly brought his (newly painted) US infantry.

The US players had free choice of that time of day to start - in the best traditions they opted for dawn.  Despite me dropping a few hints they didn't ask me about tide times - which turned out not to be their best move!  I had equipped myself with a set of tide tables (actually from Whitby in North Yorkshire) which I'd have shared on request.  Low tide was - you've guessed it - around dawn.  

On floated the fleet - Portland in the distance, apparently hotly pursued by two US warships.  Next in line were the two transports while closer inshore were the ironclads.
An early shot from the Reb gunners severed the tow of the bomb ketch which was then left adrift and pointing in any direction except the fort!
Just after that calamity the lighter-coloured monitor ran aground and stuck fast.

Of course, what every amphibious assault needs is a real amphibian!   Sharp-eyed Pete spotted Froggie (as we call him) but he didn't seem that interested in the game.
The Ironsides took hits and was soon gently ablaze.  It also lost power and steering.
The crew of the monitor emerged on deck as the incoming tide, while failing to refloat the thing, rendered the deck awash.
And excellent hit on a US warship!
Pete adopts the elegant firing posture familiar to Funny Little Wars gamers!

The fleet was soon in a bit of a state - the orange dice were used to keep track of hits - but sailed gamely on. In the distance, Portland has been beached and Cdr Rhind is rowing away at a furious pace!
As well as Confederate guns, the US sailors must face other hazards.  Sharkie came with the Playmobil ship so it seemed only fair to include him in the game.