EXCERPT 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

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Bugler, Sound Assemble!

Sometimes is not easy getting volunteers in shape.

Last week I had a casting session and mustered 8 more privates and an officer to complete the first 12 figure unit. All looked ok out in the shed but by the time I got to my desk one of them had lost his bayonet.  I grumbled, I wavered, but then I went back out and cast 2 more. Then I cleaned up the castings, still ok, then washed them, and lost 3 more bayonets. Argghhh! It would appear that hasty casting in -5C weather doesn't always aid the free flow of metal into the mold. I contemplated ignoring the shortage of bayonets but that seemed like a poor start for the unit. I couldn't help remembering though that my first attempt at casting a Canadian volunteer from the Fenian era, a converted 54mm Britain's Guardsmen, also had a mold problem which made that mold unusable. Anyway, although there was no difference in equipment historically, I decided to paint the 3 bayonet-less privates as Riflemen in green. I'd replace the redcoats during the next thaw (hopefully Tuesday). I began painting.......  
A mixed battalion of Faraway Volunteers in 1861. (One man shy.)
Now my room at the back of the house is sometimes a bit chilly this time of year so I often wear an old cardigan with the baggy sleeves cut off to avoid snagging soldiers and hurling them across the room when leaning over the games table. Apparently, even with the sleeves cut off the mischievous thing is still quite capable of snagging a stick full of 1/2 painted figures and hurling them to the floor. OK then 4 privates. Carry on, I'll just have to add 4 more instead of 3.

Then I looked at the officer, one of my 1840's officer castings whose peaked cap I had filed down and squared up into an 1860's officer's  cap, sort of. Something tickled the back of my brain, so after a few seconds I reached for the reference books again. Yup, I was right. Prior to the Crimean War British officers wore a waist sash, often knotted on the left, and so did my figure. However, after Crimea, it was replaced by a shoulder sash knotted on the left for sergeants but on the right for officers. C**P!   I briefly thought about the old Britain's approach of "if its not painted it isn't there" but I had over exaggerated the sculpting of the knot and there was no way I could ignore it. Then I thought, maybe sergeant-majors were allowed to wear officer style frock coats? Six books later with more to go, I decided that answering the question was going to involve a long search, possibly years and wasn't likely to be found in my library, filing off the offending lump of metal would be faster even if it did take the paint off the nearly finished figure. Sighhh. All better now.

Time to get them into action.
From an Oct 2011 repost of a 2001 battle report of the 1st Faraway vs Oberhilse battle set in 1861.  (see link for the battle report.) 

In between painting and life, I've been trying to "wrassle" the wreck of several aborted armies back into what they were originally supposed to be, organized for the rules in hand. Along the way I was reminded that the organization and basing scheme is what was decided on 2 years ago, just before the unexpected outbreak of the Great War on my table top. An outbreak that seemed to disrupt everything for a year and 1/2. I also noted that for the 3rd time in 5 years, I have come back to a 40mm version of my original 54mm plan from 1999.  Third time is a charm 'they' say. 

Its often a good idea when testing to start small and simple so I have set up a very basic, as Old School as it gets, meeting engagement between equal forces. 2 cavalry squadrons, 16 infantry companies and 1 gun a side. "Take and hold the crossroad".
About as traditional a basic set up and scenario as you can get.
Report probably on Tuesday. If all goes well it'll be time for some campaigning.


  1. Ross Mac,

    I like your newly-cast and painted figures, and I hope at you manage to complete your units once the temperature rises.

    Your completed terrain cloth looks equally impressive, and I look forward to seeing your forthcoming battle report.

    All the best,


    1. Thanks Bob, the weather this week is looking good.

  2. Oh Ross! the trials and the tribulations!

    Perhaps this is why I buy things of the shelf.

    Looking good,


  3. Looking forward to hearing about the game.
    Great new figures and the set up has a great feel to it.

    1. Thanks Alan I'm pretty happy with the way this is headed.

  4. Have you tried pre-warming the moulds before casting and letting them cool in a warmer place before opening them? That might give time for the metal to form properly at the molecular level.

    1. Thanks Jim, I do prewarm them but once they've been filled they stay hot. The only real issue with cold is me being hasty. Past experience of the same issue in ideal weather is that the mould putty is much softer than liquid rtv and I have to be very careful about which clamps I use and exactly where I place them. ( see hasty when cold)