Sunday, March 11, 2018


 It Looks More Orderly Than It Is: There is More Stuff Than Shelf Space (and You Can't See What's Left, Right, and Behind the Camera): Sorting and Culling Is In Order.

Ever since sometime in late August, things have been something of a blur--a combination of high tempo at work, a series of disruptive unplanned trips half way across the country to deal with family issues, and gaming projects that I didn't "recover" from before moving on, have all taken their toll on my "man cave." The spiral into entropy began with putting together the Ramillies 1815 game, for which my room was both the workshop and staging area.  And then, once it was over, I brought the stuff home and just dumped it in the room, an explosion of 28mm Napoleonics,  terrain, reference sheets, game bits, etc.  I walked away and left it "for later" to sort and stow. The time and energy for that, though, didn't come. Meanwhile, I tinkered with one or two more games (abortive), which left more stuff sitting out.  Of course I acquired new toys, a few more books, and did a few more painting projects, all things that would need new homes to be found, but which instead just got put in the room--sitting out mixed in with the exploded old stuff.  And that has been the state of things for the last few months.  I was operating right at the capacity of the room before.  I'm past that now:  the long-anticipated clear out is a matter of necessity. 
 Napoleonics In The Attic

I've taken the first big step, which was to take my 15mm Napoleonics out of the room and up into the attic--from there, I suspect that they may continue on their way out of my collection, but that's for later. For now, this step has opened up shelf space that will allow me to get some traction on the project (these used to occupy the open shelf space in the right hand corner of the opening picture).

 Perhaps when all is done, I'll be able to do better than lean my swords up in the corners.

I've been whacking away at this a bit at a time over the last few weeks. I intend to dedicate more and longer stretches of time to this project now (dare I call it "spring cleaning"?). I guess somewhere in the back of my head has also been the growing sense that I have reached that point where, as a gamer of a certain vintage, there is stuff that just needs to go. That is a long term thing that I'll no doubt start to engage with in this process (the 15mm Napoleonics being a start). In the short term, the urgency is upon me to to turn the room around so that I can start hosting games again (I'm overdue) and also so that I can start playtesting my Huzzah! game, coming up in May--now there's some more positive motivation!


Thursday, March 1, 2018


Hungarian Artillery in Kepi: Converted Northstar 1866 Austrian Gunners

For the long suffering readers of this blog who have been hearing about this (surprisingly extended) project, I shan't try their endurance further by reciting what has already been said. For them, this eye candy is the "payoff" for their endurance and helpful nudges along the way.  For those who are unfamiliar with the project and who may be otherwise curious or afflicted with a similar mania and interested in replicating this madness, you may recover the details of the conversion  in the Jan 28th Post,  the Feb 5th Post, and the Feb 23rd Post.  As usual, you may clix pix for BIG PIX.
  "Red Cap" Artillerymen with 8 pounder
Blue-capped gunners with 4 pounder
Candy-striped guns (they won't be mistaken for Austrians!)
The Hungarian grand battery: one "red cap" battery and two blue.

Re-reading Bill Haggert's excellent piece in the Midwest Wargamer's Association Newsletter #120 (Dec 2002) on the Hungarian Revolt, 1848-49, I found an interesting tidbit on the Hungarian artillery.  Its core was formed from the former Imperial 5th Artillery Regiment, which was a Hungarian unit stationed in Pest, which defected to Hungary en masse. Most of the volunteers who joined the Hungarian artillery were university students.  So the Hungarian artillery, a technical service that normally might be of low quality in a breakaway state was, to the contrary, "so proficient that the Austrians were convinced that they were facing French mercenaries from the newly Republican France" (Haggert, MWAN, p21).  So, in answer to the caustic query of, "They're pretty, but can they fight?" The answer is: Igen, Igen!
Clever lads with pretty guns--who shoot pretty well.


Friday, February 23, 2018


Hungarian Gunners, waiting for the last steps
Harken back with me, dear readers, to my earlier post of 28 January ,when I first reported on my latest conversion project, the Hungarian/Honved artillery, estimating that it would be the work of a week--fond, silly, man!  Well, here I am, nearly one month later, and I can report that...well, if they aren't done, they are nearly done.  As usual, you may clix pix for Big Pix.
By way of comparison to the source figures, in the above you can see the converted Hungarians next their counterpart Austrians  (all Northstar 1866 Austrian Artillery Figs). Headgear modification aside, the major work involved free-handing the Hungarian loops and knots and such.  To make the red stand out against the brown, I found that I needed to once again resort to black lining--my method, if anyone wishes to replicate it, was to first paint in the details in black, a bit larger than I estimated them to be, and then do the red over the black.
Above, "Red Cap"artillerists next to their blue-kepied comrades. Still to go is a coat of flat varnish, which I shan't be able to do until tomorrow--a word to those who may wish to try enamels.  You need to let them season for at least 24 hours before taking that varnish step. Otherwise the flat varnish will take the paint up in places and in others will make it run  (I learned this the hard way: once and once only!).   After the varnish, there will be a bit more cleaning up of stray marks and such, and then comes the mounting.  I'm looking forward to seeing the Hungarian candy-striped guns and these figures together on the same stand--I doubt that anyone will be mistaking them for their Austrian cousins! Barring another back problem (which did keep me out of action for at least ten days), I should be posting the finished product in a few days (fingers crossed!).  

Saturday, February 10, 2018


 Figure-eye level view of the the scene of the non-action: you can spy the lone Quartermaster in the yard in front of the Inn.
 This last Friday was my club's February game night, and I had spent a good part of the last weekend plus the balance of my free time up until Wed of this week (more on that in a moment) putting together a 17th Century skirmish-level game using a modified version of Dropwing Games System's Reiver rules  (by Steve Winter).   This was going to be my first use of a Cigar Box Battle Mat This will also most likely be the game that I will be running at Huzzah! in May.
The premise for this bit of "small war" was that things had gone badly for one side in a battle, leading to the usual the panic in the baggage area. The baggage detachment bolts, taking every bit of transport with it, leaving the unfortunate quartermaster stranded, along with two guards who were too slow to get away with the rest (only the quartermaster is in these pictures).
Enter the players, each in charge of a file of dragoons or Croats, converging on said baggage camp to grab whatever they can--each player for himself.  This is the old "and then they abandoned the battle and looted the baggage camp" moment, a speciality of dragoons an Croats.  Among the barrels, boxes, and buildings, there will be stashes of stuff to be had. Being a very low level system, each player would run 6 figures, which would have a basic set of stats each (nothing very elaborate). Above, I had even gotten so far as to sort the figures for movement (each figure represented in mounted and unmounted mode).
Unfortunately, on Wednesday night, a shovel full of water-soaked snow got me--and I strained my lower back.  All work ceased on the game and instead I proceeded to indulge in some nice back spasms.  Given some nice muscle relaxers and doing a bunch of nothing (horizontally), I should be returning to normal operations in the next week (but never in time for the Friday game).   So, I'll be putting the finishing touches on the scenario and bringing it to the April club game night instead.  I'll be adding a few more trees and such for the actual game, but it doesn't need much more.  Thus ends my un-battle report, dear readers, until April.

Monday, February 5, 2018


Honved Guns: Hungarian Candy Stripes and Imperial Yellow

Following up from the previous work in progress, this last week, and the bulk of this weekend, was expended on assembling and painting up the hardware (ie guns) for my Hungarian artillery. I decided to do all the models I had on hand, which is more than I need.  I thought that I would just tuck in and get them all done with an eye towards having them out of the way should I ever need to expand my collection (we all know that never happens...).   By keeping two of them in Imperial yellow, these could also work for my Austrian contingent as well.  As far as the grindingly slow progress, let's just say that my aversion to painting equipment was not ameliorated by the experience of getting these together.  
Any geometric pattern is a challenge given how the eye picks up on irregularities.  I wound up tracing the diagonals in pencil and then painting between the lines in order to get these to come out right--not a deliberate process that I came up with in advance but rather a solution that grew out of trial and error.  There is still a bit of touching up to do, but this is where these stand at this point--the grey is my take on what the "plain wood" of the Hungarian carriages (those that weren't Imperial yellow) would look like once weathered. Once these are plopped on proper stands with some green underneath, I'm hoping that the Hungarian colors will stand out a bit more.  
I had thought that I would have been able to knock out the entire project by now, but as you can see, the gunners are only just begun.  So, dear readers, work continues.   

Sunday, January 28, 2018


Austrian 1866 Gunners Repurposed as Hungarian/Honved Gunners

I mentioned in an earlier post that my Hungarian/Honved contingent was complete--with the exception of command and artillery. Regarding command, I have commissioned a mounted Hungarian command figure with Steve Barber that will work nicely as a generic middle level commander, and I know of another higher level command figure in the works commissioned by another person. I get the feeling that one or both of these might be coming out soon. As far as the artillery, I recall seeing a news item (I don't recall exactly where) more than a year ago showing Hungarian/Honved artillerists. As such, I have been anticipating the release of these for some time. In the meantime, I moved ahead, figuring that given my pace and other projects that it would be unlikely that I would be at the point of completing my Hungarians before the gunners came out.  And of course the unlikely has happened.

Having reached this point, I've decided to go ahead with "Plan B" and convert the North Star 1866 Austrian Artillery figures I have on hand into Hungarian/Honved Gunners rather than wait any further.  Momentum is with me, and I don't want to lose it.  As far as comparability, the Austrian kit is very close to the Hungarian, the major difference being the Austrian small form shako as opposed to the Hungarian full sized one. However, the Hungarians also wore the kepi, which is what I'm using as my license to steal. Thus, I will do my Honved gunners in kepis, which will not only set them apart from their similarly brown-coated Austrian adversaries, but add a dash of color as well, with Hungarian "red cap" gunners and gunners in the standard blue kepi.
Converted kepi gunners with original figure (circled): North Star Austrian gunners 

Of course, I couldn't just paint the Austrian shakos like kepis and leave it at that--oh, no, this would never do! Instead, I decided to undertake a small conversion: I would reduce the height of the shako to kepi-size and add a Hungarian pompom. For the curious, this was a fairly simple process, involving a small wire cutter, an exacto knife, a dab of green stuff, a stream of muttering and invective--and Bob's yer uncle, Hungarian gunners!

The way of the world being what it is, I fully expect to see, ere this lot is done, some beautifully rendered Hungarian gunners among the "New Releases" on the Steve Barber website. In that case, I'll certainly be among the first to get them, but given this process, I'll probably feel obliged to convert them into something else (perhaps Mexicans...). Take this as a cautionary tale, dear reader, to avoid the conversion mania or you'll wind up like me!

Saturday, January 20, 2018


A major project at work has consumed much of my energy and time for the last few weeks, so not much time for blogging. However, things should be reaching equilibrium again. Despite being busy, there has been some hobby related news that might be of interest. Last year, I picked up John Ray's magnum opus, A Military Gentleman of the 18th Century (pictured above)--known to those in the know as AMG.  This week, I took the time to run a much-anticipated errand to fetch the book from my local bookbinder, where it had been since before the holidays (more on that in a bit)...

For those not familiar, this tome is a labor of love (obsession?) in which the author, John Ray, and his collaborators (artists, figure sculptors, painters) tell a story illustrated by glossy, full color photographs (hundreds of 'em) using 18th Century figures (hundreds of 'em--maybe more) in tabletop settings, complete with custom terrain. The author is extremely protective of his material, so I won't put up images. For a full (and better) description, along with selected images, I would direct you to the first post on John Ray's AMG blog. The book has a limited run of 500. 

Although the AMG blog page says that all available copies are sold, there are books that were sold through  Ken Trotman Books, which is where I picked up mine (and they seem to still have some availability there now).   Checking on Amazon will also turn up some copies  (right now, there several there, but more costly than the Trotman, depending on the exchange rate). 
My book is #362 (stylishly late to the party); it came with a nice thank-you note from John Ray tipped in. For those who may not know, there is an AMG community, initially promoted in part by a discussion group that owners of the book had access to.  I didn't come by the book through the community, per se, nor have I tried to gain access to the forum. Nevertheless, I find that I come across references to AMG among many blogs I visit--birds of a feather, it would seem. 
My AMG, With Slipcase
The AMG was/is a production that clearly was done with an eye towards the ends and not the costs.  This was a book intended for enthusiasts, and price did not seem to be a factor in marketing (and obviously not a barrier for those who purchased it).  Given all of this, the absence of a slipcase jumped out at me once I started handling the book. It just seemed to call out for one, at least to me (this may just be my problem, given my bibliophile tendencies).  [Note: John Ray has left a note in the comments indicating that a slip case or some other similar addition was considered, but was found to be cost-prohibitive: I stand corrected--thanks, John, for the information!]. Fortunately, I have a trusted local bookbinder that I have brought other books from my collection to for restoration and binding.  It occurred to me to  take my AMG there and have a slipcase made.  This week, I brought it home, and it's just the thing! Not a bad after-market addition (and it does not modify the original).
Images from the 2017 AMG Weekend, from the excellent Carryings On Up the Dale Blog

Speaking of associations of like-minded folk, the idea of the annual AMG meeting is a temptation--a trip across the pond to the UK, with some sort of gaming included in the itinerary, is always percolating in my mind. Until I translate that thought into travel, I'll still have the book to peruse and the virtual AMG (and AMG-minded) community in the blogosphere to associate with. Speaking of which, I would be interested to know if there are any "AMGers" who have stumbled across this blog.  
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