Saturday, December 30, 2017


Well, it's the end of the second calendar year of this blog's existence and time for a year-end assessment. As far as blogging, one of my aims was to keep the blog active.  Despite "real world" issues that interrupted hobby activity (and time for hobby activity),  I'm happy that I managed to keep things fairly "alive" with 56 blog posts over the year (including this one)--with a fair amount of variety, I think.  Another major blogging aim for me was to share hobby materials. I am gratified that I was able to add four new content pages in support of this goal: Chocolate Box Wars, Smalle Warre, Miniatures on a Grid, and Ramillies 1815.   
In 2018, I hope to flesh out the Miniatures on a Grid page with actual rules and also complete the Chocolate Box Wars project.

I am always impressed by bloggers who are able to report numbers of games, figures painted, and such. I fear that my summary will be much more general in that regard, dear readers. Although I don't log these things, by going through my blog painting posts, I am able, for the first time ever, to report on my (modest) annual painting output:

In 2017, I painted and based 127, 28mm figures. This tally does not count a consignment of painted figures I received and mounted for my mid century Austrians. Of the figures I painted, 26 were mounted and the remainder were infantry. Not a stunning total, I have to admit, but I've never claimed to be a volume painter--and all the mounted figures were either hussars or command figures, so I probably could count those as 1.5 figures each in terms of effort! Nevertheless, these have all been concentrated in one area: my Chocolate Box Wars armies. Therefore,  these modest totals still represent a significant step-up in gaming capacity in that area. Following this thought, one of the first posts of 2018 will be of the figures I completed from my December 8th WIP Post.  

In terms of overall hobby activity, hosting the Ramillies 1815 mega-game for my gaming club was the most significant hobby project of the calendar year, by far, as well as the most rewarding.  A close second in terms of significance, if not scope, was getting a workable Volley and Bayonet variant together that allowed me to put my new 19thC continental figures on the table for the first time in the Battle of Dybbol, the battle report for which turned out to be the most popular post--so I definitely want to run more of these games in 2018 (and report on them!).  Speaking of battle reports, I hope to have the time to produce more GIF-animated battle reports in 2018.

Finally, in 2017 the "Followers" count climbed to 41--wonderful encouragement for continuing what, to me, still feels like a fledgling effort. 

So, dear readers, I now close the book on 2017 and look forward to more happy meanderings in 2018--and wish the same to you.

Friday, December 22, 2017



Enjoy A Small Holiday Interlude... 
...Two Minutes With The Robert Shaw Chorale ♫


Sunday, December 17, 2017


 Aly Morrison's Shiny Toy Soldiers (STS) from the Spencer Smith Website

The talented Aly Morrison, of Aly's Toy Soldiers fame, and I had some small correspondence recently concerning our mutual interest in the wars of the mid century, specifically concerning my "Chocolate Box Wars" project.  Aside from posting on the topic on this blog, I also wrote about it in the Foreign Correspondent (#116, Oct 2016): a version of that piece can  be found in a previous post on this blog.  Gentleman that he is, Aly had contacted me asking for permission to use the term "Chocolate Box Soldiers" in something he was working on (an ongoing project).  Of course, I agreed: far from feeling infringed upon, I found it extremely positive that we were sharing a term along parallel lines. 

Now we come to the exciting revelation.  Several weeks ago, fellow blogger and friend Mark N, of the Come on My Brave Fusiliers! blog presented me with a fine gift: a small stack of back issues of the Foreign Correspondent, Newsletter of the Continental Wars Society. In the July 2007 issue, I ran across a piece entitled,  "Shiny Toy Soldiers" by Aly Morrison (text available by clicking on the title). 
In that piece, Aly uses the term "Chocolate Box Soldiers." The conceptual framework he describes and the one that I present in my ruminations are consistent with each other. So much so that one could easily imagine that I had co-opted (to be nice) his concept and turn of phrase--we both invoke the Prisoner of Zenda, for instance.  Incredible as it may seem, this was not the case. As a matter of fact, had I seen his Tiny Toy Soldiers (and also Little Britons) on the Spencer Smith site before I had embarked on my own project, my figure collection could have taken a very different turn.  Even now, with a half completed Hungarian infantry contingent on the painting table, I am still tempted to dabble in the STS line...but that way lies madness. No more of that! 

So, dear reader, to set the record straight and to give credit where it is due, Aly arrived there nearly a decade before I did, and it is I who should have been seeking permission from him (which he has since graciously granted).  More than that, this is a happy parable of the community that blogging enables. 
An Image From Aly's Blog
For a treat I heartily recommend checking the "A Gentleman's War"  reports on Aly's blog. There you will find Chocolate Box Soldiers on the march, doing H.G.W. proud.


Friday, December 8, 2017


Getting back into the swing of things after a prolonged period of distractions--after receiving the most recent order from Steve Barber Models, I was motivated to clear off the painting desk and get it in shape for operations again. Above, the new figures primed, put on sticks, and in progress (early progress). 

In my previous post, I showcased these figures as depicted on the Steve Barber website (in all their professionally painted glory).  In this post, dear readers, you can see them in raw form (you will note that I am squarely in the white-primer camp).  
Infantry Advancing in Kepis: these are destined to become one unit of "Red Caps" and one unit of "White Caps"

Infantry in Fur Caps: there will be one unit of these unique fellows.
The newly released officers advancing with sword will provide the leader figures for these new units. 
It is particularly gratifying to be working on figures that I commissioned (the infantry in kepis and the officer variants--the fellows in the fur caps are also a new release, but I didn't commission them).  It seems as though things will be settling down into a more normal pattern again (fingers crossed), and I'll be able to return to my usual routine of getting some painting done each day.  If that holds, I should be posting the finished product within two weeks.  

Sunday, November 26, 2017


 Hungarian Honved Infantry Advancing in Kepi (ERH14) from the Steve Barber website.

Work, Thanksgiving travel, and some upcoming travel for family issues have suppressed blog-worthy gaming activity recently. However, there is some news to report. I was pleasantly surprised during a recent visit to the Steve Barber website to find several of the figures that I had commissioned being offered: the much-anticipated Hungarian infantry in Kepi (above) and the Hungarian officer advancing with sword (below). As usual, you may clix pix for BIG PIX in this post.
  Hungarian Honved Officer Advancing With Sword (ERH13) from the Steve Barber website.

These were among a few recent releases in the range (and there are more in the works, to include several more of my commissions). I promptly placed an order for the new infantry in kepi, along with the new officer variant. Of course, that wasn't all...

Hungarian Honved Infantry Advancing With Fur Hat (ERH16) from the Steve Barber website.

I couldn't resist adding these Hungarians in fur caps to the order, another nice addition to the line (although not commissioned by me).  All of these figures should help to kickstart my winter painting campaign, among other hobby activities. With these figures, I'm looking forward to adding a "red cap" and a "white cap" unit to my Honved forces, along with a unit in fur caps.

Another development was the recent release of the Transylvanian infantry...

Hungarian Transylvanian Infantry Advancing (ERH9) from the Steve Barber website: commissioned (and also expertly painted) by the Grey Herron

...interesting to compare the above figures with the conversions (below) that I had done to create the same prior to them becoming available (and prior to me knowing that they would be)...
 ...for the curious, I documented the production of my Transylvanian conversions in an earlier post.

 These figures should round out my Hungarian infantry, which, together with the Rifles and Transylvanians,  should present quite a colorful array when complete.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017


Above: An in-progress picture I took of a well thought out and innovative 30 Year's War game I was running at a local convention. Among the players at the table were veteran gamers who were versed in the arcane knowledge of 17th Century Warfare (you may notice some distortion in the lower right hand area of the above image).

Where am I going with this? Patience, dear reader.  For those who have been following this blog, you may recall the posting I did reporting on the major club game that I ran, Ramillies 1815, that had 20 players, a 20 foot main table flanked by 2, 18 foot approach tables, and enough 28mm Napoleonics to fill them.... novelty that I included in that game was toy telescopes.  These were the only means for players to spy out the opposing forces approaching from across the room...
 ...and they were next to useless. Nevertheless, this was half the attraction, and they were a hit.  In an email exchange after the game, I joked that the game had actually been an elaborate setup just to get 20 or so middle aged men to peer through toy telescopes on a Saturday morning.... 
...the more I thought about it, though, the more I came to realize that in my jest...
  ...I had stumbled upon an essential truth... 

  ...and that truth is that we are playing...

 ...even though we may be engaged in a sophisticated, provocative tactical problem, on a table strewn with historically accurate figures governed by rules systems that fulfill our demanding understandings of a historical period...
...underneath it all, this is what we're still really doing--if we are fortunate.  

Saturday, November 11, 2017


 Given our hobby, it is well that we pause on this day to contemplate the human reality behind the spectacle, those who served and sacrificed, and those who continue to do so, in all wars.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017


The popularity of by-unit activation systems (usually randomised) brings up a related challenge: keeping track of units and activations, especially when repurposing figures from other sets of rules. This was the problem I faced when using my individually mounted Napoleonics for a version of Brother Against Brother, a system that uses randomized unit-activation. I wanted a stand-alone system that I could use that would be quick, user-friendly, visually appealing, and useable with other rules. Here’s one man’s solution: ED M'S UNIVERSAL ACTIVATION MARKERS (as pictured above).   In this post, as usual, you may clix pix for BIG PIX

THE MATERIALS: These can be broken down into flocking materials and construction materials. I’m sure that most readers don’t need to be instructed on how to flock their bases, but for the sake of recording the complete process, I’ll include my flocking steps.

Flocking: Woodland Scenics Blended Turf Green Blend (T1349) and Earth Blend (T1350); Woodland Scenics Scenic Cement (S191), which is a pre-mixed white glue and water solution; acrylic paint (brown and green); small cups; and a disposable eye dropper.

 Construction: Krylon Crystal Clear Acrylic Coating (1303)--or a fixative of your choice; Avery Full Sheet Labels (5353); Scissors; Circular 25mm (1”) wide, 3mm (1/8”) thick bases--or a size/shape of your choice; and Cardstock (roughly the thickness of wargame counters).


The first thing to do is to create the graphics. Any basic graphics program should work (you could probably do it in MS Word as well). I used MS Paint, which comes bundled with every Windows system. I created a set of 1/2” black counters with white numbers/letters (in Tahoma 20 point font). Your colors and font choices could differ.


Print out two sets of counters on a full-sheet peel-and-stick label. 


Then spray the sheet with the Krylon Crystal Clear. This gives a nice satin appearance and also protects well. You could experiment with other fixatives as well (check craft or art stores for other options). 

Left: Mount one set of markers on cardstock. Cut them out (right) to create the the chits that you will draw from a container to determine activation. 

You still have one set of markers remaining. Cut them out and peel and stick them to the round bases.

Paint the reverse of your markers green.  You're now ready to go from naked to flocked markers (step one). 


I use brown for my base color (above left). When putting the paint down, I overlap the edges of the paper maker. This helps to keep the edges fast to the stand (the peel-stick label has a tendency to curl at the edges over time). I then apply the Green Blended Turf (above right). This process gives your graphic the neat appearance of emerging from a window in the flock. Wait a bit for the paint to dry and proceed to step two.


This is an extra step that I do with all of my bases, and it’s where the Scenic Cement (the white stuff in the above picture) comes in. I know that I could mix my own concotion of white glue and water, but instead of messing with all of that, I just buy the ready-made Scenic Cement. A little bit goes a long way, so it’s value for money in terms of effect and ease of use. The Scenic Cement both seals and bonds the flock, so not only will it prevent your bases from shedding, but will bind the flock together into a cohesive layer, which helps keep the corners of your markers from peeling up over time (and in other applications it helps to keep figures on bases as well).

Put some Scenic Cement in a small cup or other container and apply with an eyedropper.


While the Scenic Cement is still wet, sprinkle the Earth Blend flock over the marker. The Scenic Cement will bond all the flocking material together.

Although it’s not very pronounced in the image, the Scenic Cement causes the green flock to darken when dry, and the lighter Earth Blend sprinkled on top provides a nice highlight that adds another dimension to the look. This is my go-to mix. I recommend that you experiment with other flock combinations for other effects.

Your markers are now ready for use. Although in practical terms there is no difference, I find that using letters for artillery and numbers for infantry works well for players (and myself when running a game)--your mileage may vary. I also made a few blanks (just black fields) that I could use as fakes (if these were used for hidden movement) or for some other temporary need.

Above, two infantry units and one artillery unit at the beginning of the turn.  Numbers and letters are showing, signifying that none have been activated.   
Above, Infantry #1 and the Artillery (A) markers have been flipped to green-side up, signifying that they have been activated.  Infantry #2 has yet to activate. You can tell when the turn ends quite easily by scanning the table: when all markers are face-down (green), everything has activated.  At the end of the turn, flip all markers face-up.   

These markers would also work for games with hidden movement or spotting rules where you need to place a marker on the table until the unit is revealed.

Use in good health! 
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