Thursday, October 20, 2011

20mm Nostalgic Revival

Johnny & General Du Gourmand during his last visit

Work has been demanding of late, long hours have meant that I have seen little of Mrs Kinch of late. This is always trying - but there has also been some very good news.

John Cunningham has started his own blog - 20mm Nostalgic Revival.

I met John through the Plastic Pelisse Blog in 2009. I saw his sepoy figures listed on the blog and got in touch. Too much Sharpe in my youth perhaps. There followed a correspondence which led to a very rewarding friendship, the purchase of more figures and a visit earlier this year.

I would recommend having a look at John's blog - particularly as he's started putting up photos of his extensive collection of 20mm figures.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Review: Commentaries on the Punjab Campaign 1848-49 by James Henry Lawrence-Archer

During my trip outside the Pale over the weekend, I spent my time profitably; reading the above title which I picked up from book depository for a tenner. Leonaur came up trumps again - this time serving up a book about the second Sikh War, a subject which I only discovered a few years ago and which has fascinated me ever since.

A dull fellow would say that he can download the book for free, but that's the sort of thinking that would have left Kinch bereft and staring at his empty hands on the train, so we'll say no more about it. Books; physical books, things of paper and paste board are a joy unto themselves and fie upon those who say differently.

Curiously, the publisher has removed the subtitle (which can be viewed on the online version) which indicates that this volume is quite humbly only offering itself as an addition to Thackwell's "The Second Sikh War". The author served in the 24th Foot during the war and wrote it to put right some points where he felt Thackwell had either wandered off the point or made an ass of himself.

According to an article I found online, the author was a Masonic gentleman who was comissioned in 1840 into the 39th Foot and retired on half pay in 1869 having served extensively in India. He wrote on orders of chivalry, history and antiquarian topics.

What you get for your tenner is a two hundred page perfect bound book. The author's observations take up the first ninety pages, while the second half is taken up with primary sources, despatches and the like, all of which are of interest.

To begin with there are the maps, which are very poor. They are obviously copies which have been rather inexpertly enlarged in such a way as to make the legend almost impossible to read. Poor show Leonaur, I have come to expect better of you. A wise reader will print out copies from the digital version or will be sufficiently familiar with the battles already.

Which brings me to my second point, because this book is an adjunct to Thackwell's history - the author assumes a familiarity of the campaign that the general reader is unlikely to have. Though I can't imagine many readers of this book being unacquainted with the Sikh War.

The author is very critical of Lord Gough, who he felt was more lion than fox; relying too much on the bayonet as the weapon of decision and not making full use of his artillery. I've often heard this criticism repeated and in some ways it is quite reminiscent of the criticisms of Grant during the American Civil War. The criticism may have been merited, but it is hard to replace a general who wins.

Curiously for a book billed as an eyewitness account, there is very little use of the first person in the text which is for the most part limited to general observations on the campaign. Where the narrative really shines is in the chapters on the Battle of Chillianwallah. The authors regiment took part in a controversial charge during this battle and lost one of its colours, which would leave anyone with a great deal of explaining to do. The authors observations on jungle fighting in the horse and musket era also repay study.

In conclusion, this is a book for the Sikh War completist only and useful mainly for the chapters on Chillianwallah and for the collected dispatches.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A good weekend

Most the pictures from the weekend will have to stay offline to protect the guilty, so I'll leave you with this stock image of a no doubt ravishing hand model plying his trade

It's been a jam packed weekend. I made my annual trip outside the pale, where I attended the 30th birthday of a very good friend. This was great fun. We were in a pub with saw dust on the floor, there was a chap with a guitar and the entire pub sang along.

It was a bit like being in a Bord Failte ad.

On a completely unrelated note, there should be a word for the sense of melancholy that possesses one when it is discovered that a friends dog has torn a perfectly triangular hole in a favourite pair of trousers.

Mrs. Kinch has made noises about darning it, but I am skeptical.

The trip back was uneventful and I read "An Eyewitness Account of the Second Sikh War" on the train. Much like the curates egg, it was good in parts, I'll have to post a review later.

The other discovery of the weekend was Hobby E Tac. This is a glue that Woodland Scenics produce to complement their range of do it yourself tree armatures. I'd used standard PVA before and it was workable, but it still wasn't quite the thing. It generally took a while for the clump foliage to stick and it didn't always do the job. I'm usually suspicious of proprietary glues, I think because of Games Workshop, but I purchased this stuff on a whim and it is splendid. While I generally had to apply small amounts of foliage at a time with the PVA and allow the PVA to dry inbetween applications. The Hobby E Tac speeds the process greatly as it only requires one coat and it grips the material immediately, forming a stronger bond.

I got the last of the trees that I need for the big game finished in an evening. All that remains is to prettify the bases and they're ready.

Definately worth a shot.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Hinton Hunt Tirallieurs of the Young Guard

Tirallieurs, two units of sixteen each on their new bases

I was lucky enough to be part of a consortium that bought some Hinton Hunt figures relatively recently. This was organised by the ever reliable John Cunningham. I haven't had a chance to sort through them as much as I would like, but I was working with these chaps tonight because I need two additional units of French Light Infantry for the scenarios I'll be running at Gaelcon.

These fine fellows are Tirallieurs of the Young Guard, though I'll confess that John had to identify them for me as my knowledge of the Guard is very limited. I'll be rating them as line troops for my purposes at least until Gaelcon and I'll be adding some HAT figures to make up the requisite officer, musician and sergeant. They were painted by the collector John bought them from and the paintwork is in very good condition. From examining the bases it seems clear that these are veterans of many a shot torn tabletop as several of the cornflake packets in question are priced in old money.

The chaps on their original bases, not the greatest of pictures,
but not bad for a camera phone in the middle of dinner

We had friends over for dinner and afterwards over the grapes and cheese, I pottered about cutting bases (though Sheelagh* helped). I then tore the veterans off their card bases and based them singly on 5/8 squares of plasti-card. I'll add filler and magnetic bases later. This is where having a tray helps.

Little and often, that's my new mantra.

So they'll be rebased, but otherwise I wouldn't touch these veterans. I only hope they serve as long on my table as they did on their previous masters.

*Curiously enough, I can often enlist female help if the job involves "colouring in" or "cutting out".

Bases from Products for Wargamers

A Woodland Scenics Tree Armature on a Products for Wargamers 40mm base

I used up the last of my Games Workshop 60mm bases a few days ago and I realised that I would need some more trees.

A count of my current crop reveals that I have 15 properly based specimens in various states of completion, which leaves me rather short of the 22 I will require for my upcoming game. I'm very taken with the Woodland Scenics tree armatures, so I think I might extent my forestry by investing in some more. I have plenty of lichen and clump foliage lying about so that should fill the gap nicely, though I'm torn between buying a bottle of Hobby-E-Tac, which is some sort of special glue for the purpose, and continuing to use PVA. The PVA hasn't been an unreserved success, but we shall see. I think the main determinant will be whether the model shop has it in stock when I go in for the armatures.

Products for Wargamers 3mm laser cut bases in 40mm and 60mm for the princely sum of £2. Take that Games Workshop!

But on the bases.

I called to Games Workshop to pick up a bag of 60mm bases, when I was told by the greasy oik behind the counter that they no longer stocked them. I was of course welcome to buy a bag of "mixed round bases". This cost about a tenner and had two 60mm bases in it along with a variety of stuff that I didn't need. I cast about for a replacement and again Jim at Products for Wargamers provided. He supplied my wants with all speed, including bags of 40mm and 60mm bases laser cut from 3mm MDF. He even managed to extract sense from emails sent by a customer whose brain was addled from working nights.

Jim made me a selection of bespoke MDF bases for another related project in indecent speed. More on that later.

The service was swift, the product excellent and the price more than fair. A loud hurrah for Jim Moore of Products for Wargamers and the last one to build a forest is a rotten egg.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Little and often

Foam offcuts, marked out with a felt tip

I have a busy few days ahead of me as I'm behind on my paper in work, mainly due to my recent bout of Spectrox Toxemia, which knocked me for six for a little bit. With that in mind, I've been trying to make sure that I do some work on my Napoleonic game or my larp for Gaelcon every day. This is to prevent the mad rush at the end, which sometimes extends into the convention itself and generally spoils the fun of the thing.

Busaco is a rather hill heavy battle and I soon realised that my current stock of hills simply wouldn't cut it. I had hoped to make large single piece bespoke hills, but soon realised that these had several problems.

1. While they would look better they would be single use, pieces that large are a great deal more expensive than the offcuts I've been getting for a handshake.

2. It's harder to tell where the hexes are on a larger hill.

3. The single pieces aren't modular. You are tied to a specific setup.

Electric carving knife, terrain maker, for the use of

So I marked out my offcuts and set to work cutting them out. This was quick work and I managed to get it done in about twenty minutes between Mrs Kinch going to bed and the first demand for a cup of tea.

The electric carving knife is not as precise a tool as a hot wire cutter, but I don't have one of those.

Maybe I should get one of those...

The end result, hills!

Twenty minutes later, the war room was covered in hills, foam offcuts and all manner of other stuff. Spraying them will have to wait for another day - but I'm glad I have another little job out of the way.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Strelets Napoleon in Egypt

Bonaparte being dastardly in the middle east
by the rather talented Jean-Leon Gerome

Like all wargamers I am a butterfly rather than a beaver, but these caught my eye the other day and I came over all enthusiastic. I can't imagine they'll be available this year, but they certainly put me to thinking odd fevered dreams of camel mounted hussars, back badge day and charging mamelukes.

Heady stuff.

And just goes to show what a wonderfully rich period we are living through in terms of the hobby.

French Line Infantry

French Light Infantry

British Line Infantry

Command & Colours Napoleonics: Spanish Expansion News

The Second of May 1808 or The Charge of the Mamelukes
by Franciso Goya

This painting commemorates the Spanish people's rising against the invading French army. I think it points to the grimness of the situation and the bleakness of Goya's outlook that this swirling, stabbing, stamping melee is the most presentable of his war pictures. Any one wishing to fully understand what a jolly chap he was should investigate here.

As any regular reader of this blog well knows, I've been on tenterhooks awaiting the new Spanish expansion for Command & Colours Napoleonics. While hither to fore I've always held that the Peninsular War was a purely Franco-British affair, I have come around to the understanding that Johnny Spaniard may have taken a hand now and then.

I've already begun mustering forces for my Spanish armies, but I was handicapped somewhat by the fact that while I have a rough idea of what the Spanish army presented in the scenarios will look like, I had no exact information. But thanks to Tony Curtis at GMT games, I now have an exact block count, which will make the job of raising the appropriate units all the easier.

Spanish Units

Line Infantry - 12 units (48 blocks)

These should present no problem, I'll use my HAT Guerrillas for the time being supplemented by Falcata chaps in bicornes. Anyone short of Spanish infantry can look forward to what looks like a real treat; HAT have a line infantry set that looks splendid indeed.

Light Infantry - 3 units (15 blocks)

I shall have to go scurrying to my Osprey to find out what Spanish light infantry look like, but I should knock at least one unit out the Valencian kilt wearing light bobs in the HAT Spanish Guerilla set. Dressing all one's light infantry in skirts might excite some comment.

Grenadier Infantry - 2 units (8 blocks)

Clive is sorting me out with some Falcata Spanish Grenadiers. Great big hats with massive bags on them and mustaches that would make Tom Selleck feel inadequate. Capital fellows, the grenadiers.

Militia Infantry - 3 units (12 blocks)

I have a motley assortment of HAT Spanish Geurillas, they'll cut a dash before they cut and run.

Leaders (4 blocks)

I have two mounted Spanish officers from Falcata sets, so that's a start.

Light Cavalry - 7 units (21 blocks)

So far as I can make out, the Spanish fielded a variety of hussar units. I think I shall have to look at the Zvesda Prussian hussars as a possible match, this will require further study.

Heavy Cavalry - 5 units (15 blocks)

I'll use dragoons for these, probably HAT Prussian 1806 dragoons with bicorne.

Cuirassier Heavy Cavalry - 1 unit (3 blocks)

I know that there was a squadron of Spanish guerilla cavalry that used captured French cuirrassier kit. Depending on what scenario they appear in, I'll have to look into this further.

Foot Artillery - 3 units (9 blocks)

I have no clue what I shall use for these fellows.

French Units

Line Infantry - 4 units (16 blocks)

I have more French infantry than I could shake a very large stick at, so I can't think I'll need some more. Unless these fellows are German allies or something.

Grenadier Infantry - 2 units (8 blocks)

Uwe had some lovely French grenadiers on his blog recently. They were Guard Grenadiers, but a fancy hat is a fancy hat.

Light Cavalry - 2 units (8 blocks)

I don't have any proper French hussars, which is a problem - though it would be fitting to have the two regiments from Conrad's "The Point of Honour" on the strength.

Light Lancer Cavalry - 1 unit (4 blocks)

At last, I get to use my Zvezda Poles. It seems a shame that there is only one unit.

Heavy Cavalry - 4 units (16 blocks)

Dragoons, dragoons and then more dragoons. It seems only fair as they did the bulk of the French horse work in Spain. The Italeri set has yet to be bested.

Guard Light Cavalry - 2 units (8 blocks)

I have no idea what to use for these chaps as I am always clueless about the Guard. Off to check the Osprey I think.

I really am greatly pleased by this information. I think the Spanish cavalry are the most pressing concern, but I should be in good shape by the time the expansion comes out.

Three cheers for Tony and GMT games!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Zvezda European Thatched Country House 1/72

A view of the house, please forgive the rather poor light.
It's been pouring down here of late, much more of this and
it'll be collect two of every animal and build a big boat time.
(as always click to embiggen)

Another sample of Boomers good work. This is the Zvesda 1/72 scale cottage or as they call it European Thatched Country house. This seems fair as I can't imagine this particular structure in the British isles or even France, there's definitely something of Mitteleurope about it.

A side view, I think Boomer did a rather good job on the paintwork

(as always click to embiggen)

I picked the kit up from a local model shop. I think I paid somewhere in the region of €12 for it, but it retrospect it was a poor choice. That's quite a bit for a plastic kit and while it is nice, I know Boomer almost had a nervous breakdown putting it together. Each wall is made up of smaller sections which need to be glued together and then assembled. I can see no sensible reason this should be so, particularly when Italeri and Pegasus have produced such excellent plastic buildings without this particular feature. While the model maker does not actually have to build the place brick by brick, it's not far off it.

A view of the interior. Not the subsections.
(as always click to embiggen)

Unfortunately the building is just a little bit too small to fit an infantry unit inside, but it does fit in a hex relatively well. I've used it in Spain, mainly because I'm a hack who has little regard for verisimilitude - but I shall attempt to rectify this grievous error and use the more Iberian looking Italeri buildings in future.

Appealing to the floor - where do you expect to find this building?

In short, a nice building and Boomer did a very good job on it, but not to be recommended.