EXERT FROM APPENDIX 1 from Don Featherstone's Battles With Model Soldiers
(The book that got me started.)

"Nothing in these pages is a dictate, no word says you must or you shall do it this way. On the contrary, the book sets out from the very beginning to stimulate the reader to think for himself, and to use what he has read merely as a foundation for efforts and ideas which reflect his own temperament and character. Only in this way will he obtain maximum satisfaction from the hobby of battling with model soldiers."

-Don Featherstone 1918 - 2013

Friday, March 1, 2013

Old Stuff brought back to life - a post in 2 parts.

My expected winter campaigning season has been quietly fizzling out due largely to domestic priorities crossed with weather. I cancelled today on a planned game with Ron primarily due to a forecast of  freezing rain on the highways, which  didn't quite make it but might tomorrow. However, the day wasn't a total waste. 

Ron had broken out his 25mm SYW Austrians last week to see if C&C Naps could be adapted to fill our requirements. The last time they were out was two years ago for some Portable Wargamess for which I refurbished my old 30mm French.

My 30mm French army trying out Bob Cordery's Portable Wargame in 2011.

The core of this army consists of my first metal wargaming figures. Forty years ago this year I got my copy of Charge! and for my birthday got 2 small armies of 30mm figures from a range designed for the Plains of Abraham. I ordered enough for 3 French companies each painted as a separate battalion plus militia and a gun plus 3 British companies, inc 1 of Grenadiers and 1 of Highlanders and a gun. I also bought every mounted officer Figurines Historiques had to convert into cavalry. I got the artillery, 6 cuirassiers and four infantry companies painted before I was seduced into 25mm ancients. For years the figures languished, beloved ugly ducklings that I would neither dispose of nor use. However, as 25's grew larger and uglier and turned to 28mm, I decided I could bring them back out and even add to them. About 5 years ago I realized it was a bit silly to have 3 French War of Austrian Succession armies (15mm, 25/30mm and 40mm)  with no real opposition for any of them though there were starts on British armies in 15mm & 25/30mm. The result was a sell off of 15's & 25's but the 30's lingered.  

Ron's Minifig Austrians teamed up with my old Old Glory British as the Pragmatic Alliance in 2011.

While discussing the relative quality of the French armies in the WAS vs the SYW and the fact that the Austrians were enemies in the first but allies in the second, Ron reminded me that he had 4 British units that I had given him some time ago and suggested I might want to use them. I had already been pondering adding enough British to do a Cardtable Quebec 1759 game and it suddenly made sense to get  the lads out and see what could be done. Most of the handful of British were on individual bases or had been finally painted up as yet more French to face Ron's Austrians. 

The temptation to rebase everyone onto pennies and play Charge! was fierce but resisted since I was determined to prevent this getting out of hand and the old figures are quite brittle. A few years back I hoped to get into a Ticonderoga game and had ordered some Willie Highlanders to supplement my old ones but I couldn't make it and only 2 figures got painted. Sifting out the most badly broken figures and recovering as many English privates as I was able to, I determined that I could muster 2 British battalions (Black Watch & 58th) in short order if I hopped to it with my Grenadiers being some sort of German auxilliaries until I have time to repaint them. There are enough Willie highlanders for another unit and then I will need to buy or cast 48 more figures to balance out 8 battalions and 2 guns a side. For table top   teasers, there are enough French and Fictional cavalry and light troops to give each side 3 squadrons of heavies and 1 of lights along with 2 light units. 

To be able to do Quebec (with not quite the right units) I will need more Canadiens and some 30mm Indians  but it all looks promising. A purpose in life and completion for my original army, if on somewhat diminished state, 12 man battalions, or even 36 man brigades, being not quite the same as 60 man Charge! Regiments, all without endless options. When I painted the French all those years ago, I ignored the crude nature of the sculpting and used my military modelling skills to shade and highlight the figures as well as doing my best to represent what was often described then as off white or light grey uniforms, all finished with matt enamels. Looking at how much nicer the new glossy, unshaded, Brits look than the dingy, cluttered French veterans, I'm tempted to freshen them with nice new white coats but they are packed in shoulder to shoulder and I may just see what a coat of gloss  does for them.  

   The Highlanders painted 40 years ago and the new lads who waited 40 years for their red coats. I think that was the oldest unit left in the queue. Flocking to follow.


In addition to bit of painting and rebasing, I took a look at Spencer-Smith's Willie offerings and checked to see what Historifig had on offer.  Its been a few months since I'd caught up with TableTalk at Historifigs and Mike has been busy posting extracts from old Wargame Digests. Many of you will be up on these already but in addition to an early variant of Grant's wagon train teaser, here are links to  4 articles of particular interest to me. 

Joe Morschauser on using Flat terrain with a gridded game, - I had recently been looking at some flat toy trees with that very thought in mind for 54mm card table games, nice to see his foot prints ahead of me yet again.

Tony Bath with a set of rules for a gridded game with Arthur vs Mordred as sample games, on why wargamers who invent worlds are not lazier than those who copy history, and a set of fast play early 20thC rules.

Well worth a look. (and yes no 30mm F&IW range but some useful Indian and militia types in the 30mm AR range.


  1. Hi Ross, thanks for the links. I was unaware of Table Talk. The Highlanders still look good.

    1. You're welcome. Lots of good stuff to dig through in there and some nice miniatures in the catalog as well.

  2. I love those Highlanders - old campaigners. I wish I still had my first army from 40 years ago!

  3. There's nothing like bringing old veterans out again - stalwart and full of memory. Would be good to see Quebec (no:1?) on your table, Ross.

    1. Well disregarding the Kirke brothers, the 1st battle was with Phips' force in 1690 which has its attractions so the 2nd and most famous one. Next year will be the 255th anniversary. Something to think about but I need to put the books back on the shelf and put the French and the unpainted minis back in the cupboard and focus on making sure my expedition to Europe is ready for next week.

  4. Thanks for the links to those old articles! Nice to see I'm in good company with my flat terrain. My hills and mountains have steps on one side like JM describes. I do "round" houses, but with small footprints. I have "designed in my head" flat buildings, too, based on the idea of movie flats.

    1. I think your flat terrain was probably what got me eyeing my flat toy trees.

  5. Yes, some old figures are too brittle or fragile to survive long as individuals on pennies and, as you say, one has to restrain oneself to some degree from going too far in that direction as regards basing.

    I sometimes feel I've gone full circle with painting. Starting with glossy block colours, then years of turning my back on what I thought was incompetent naivety and earnestly shading etc, to now appreciating the glossy unshaded look.

    1. Steve my big fear was that the desire would surface to resume a Charge! organization needing hundreds of new figures.

      I started off matte but was amused to note that I'd taken the trouble to gloss coat the Highlanders' black shoes. That's not a technique that survived long!

  6. Replies
    1. Of sure, NOW you like them. I seem to recall a less broad appreciation of their different-ness back when :)

  7. Ross,

    Are you going to Cold Wars this weekend? The east coast just had a major snow storm, so you should feel right at home.

    Best regards,


    1. Unfortunately I've had to cancel on Cold Wars, snow and all. I will be at Huzzah in Portland in May.


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