Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Chariot era skirmishers: Javelinmen


The last of the Hittite and Canaanite forces are another large group of skirmish infantry.

The Javelin men just needed minor of alteration to add a bit of distinctive color to the headbands and skirts.

The same basing enhancements were applied to them as were utilized with the previously shown Archers and Slingers.

Once again, variations in the tuft colors, rocks etc on the bases were used to further differentiate each small 4 figure, 2 stand "units". 

Also as with the previous figures, I decided not to try to alter the skin tones Bill used. 

The manufacturer of these figures remains unknown. 

They area bit weak in the ankles and are best handled by the bases. 

Yet another group of 3 units/12 figures. 

Starting to run out of easily distinguished hues!

The varied basing elements help there. 

With 46 figures in 11 units, this is probably all the Chariot era Light Infantry Javelin I will ever need for my Canaanite, Hittite, and related Biblical armies. 

Not worry, though. We STILL are not done with the refurb of Bill McHugh's Biblical era collection. To come in January are some units of Sea Peoples troops - Peleset (Phlistine) and Sardana (Sherdan), and a few Assyrians as well!

Monday, December 28, 2020

Christmas 2020

Just as 2020 has been a year like no other, this was a Christmas like no other... held outside in Connecticut on December 24th (our family's traditional day for the celebration... presumably related to our German and Scandinavian origins). 

Seven days before we got 16" of snow dumped upon us... one of the largest snowstorms in December in state history! The 24th turned out to be exceptionally warm - high in the mid 50's, but cloudy and with a major rain and windstorm forecast for later in the afternoon. 

Although most of the family is continually inter-exposed due to caring for my 94 year old Mother in Law and our 2 grandsons, we still wanted to do it outside and as socially distanced as possible.  2 propane heaters and a fire table helped keep even the nonagenarian reasonably warm. The strong breeze certainly made for rapid dispersal of aerosols!  It didn't start to rain until about 3PM, and it was only drizzle for the first few hours. By evening it was heavy rain (3 inches total) and winds up to 60 mph, causing multiple power outages across the state and the region... but fortunately, not ours. Everyone was back home long before any of that became an issue. By Christmas morning, all the snow was gone!

Missing from the picture, the photographer, Dr. Kristie Anderson, seen here at work with one her youngest patients!

Youngest grandson, Oliver, age 3, with the new "chainsaw" he was given.... he didn't quite understand why the bush wasn't coming down, though! The older grandson, Owen (seated across from me in the prior picture), age 5, may just be ready for a simple wargame in a year or so. We'll see! 

The canine family members, out in the cold, and loving it!  Left to right Annie (7), Rory (12), Zoe (7), Maddie (2), and Brooke (2) (aka 'crazy girl").

There was some lead for me under the tree, courtesy of the Foundry sale. Above Peleset (Philistine) archers and command - Old Glory doesn't make either. This is enough to make 2 units of MI archers and one of LI archers. I plan to take advantage of the Newline Design sale next week to add oxcarts and maybe a few more foot, some light chariots,  and/or command.

Egyptian "Marine" Archers - enough for 1 unit each MI and LI. 

Libyan Command; I planning on adding a couple of packs of Old Glory Libyans, but they lack command figures.

Sardana (Sherdan) command figures, ditto. These will help with a rebasing of my original Sherdans from 16 figures to 12 figure each, re4sulting in an additional unit net. 

French Legere, campaign Dress - 1 unit of 18.

Sure the most annoying thing about Foundry Napoleonics is the bizarre pack sizes... 8 figures each for most infantry. Why 8?  Why not 6, which would be much more logical and flexible. And then... 7 figures for command packs - that are less than 1/2 command figures! The bulk is filled out by a hodge podge of posses from the privates. If you had to have SEVEN figures, wouldn't, say, 2 officers, 2 musicians, and an NCO or sapper make far more sense! I have no idea if I will ever use these "leftovers".  Part of why I never, ever buy Foundry figures except at the time of their annual Christmas sale! 

A little more unusual gift..

I've been looking at getting some Theory 11 playing cards for a while. They had a 25% off deal for 12 decks, plus 10% off for a first order, plus 2 free decks if your pre discount order was sufficient. 

So, I got 16 decks(!)  for about the price of 10.  :-)
Above are 2 decks each of "Union" and "Tycoon" patterns.
Mostly pairs of decks for use with To the Strongest! and/or similar rules. 

"Voyager" and "Purple Monarchs" decks. 

"James Bond", Mandarin Monarch, and Rarebit decks (Elmer Fudd would like the last one - Scwewy Wabbits"!)

My favorites - Star Wars decks - one pair each of Light Side and Dark side decks. 

The star wars decks are very customized - the court cards and Jokers especially, but even the pip designs. Very cool! 

The Union deck - think Roaring 20's! 

The Bond deck... James Bond.  One thing to be aware of with these cards - the tuckbox designs are incredible, with metallic foil etc., BUT the card backs themselves are much simpler, and usually in one color, as you can see here.

Purple Monarchs - here the court cards are pretty standard. 

Our friends the Hopkins usually give me the most interesting gifts, and this year was no exception. They share my love of history and books, and process a lot of used books donated to the local public library for book sales. Anything they think might be of interest to me gets sent my way at Christmas.

This one is a historical fiction novel...

published in 1899!  According to the overleaf, he authored nearly 50 such novels, ranging from Ancient Egypt to the Khartoum /Sudan campaign, most but not all centered on famous campaigns. 
The Wikipedia page for George Alfred Henty states it was over 120 such books, of the youth adventure genre. Given the date of publication, I would expect a considerable amount of glorification of British Imperialism, racial; stereotypes etc.; the Wikipedia page confirms those expectations. Recognizing the biases, never the less these kind of books often make stirring reading, and he was eveidently the most successful children's author of his time. Indeed, all of his books are available in current editions! 
I must confess to looking forward to reading this one! 

Another unusual title, but actually a rather appealing concept for a book! 

A brief search on this author reveals that he also wrote biographies of Ney and Murat... 

and all three books are in print today! I believe Sam Mustafa wrote a biography of Jerome; we were discussing it when I met him at Historicon in 2011.
Yes, he did. The price is painful, though!

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Influential Books

    Herein I am following a theme started by a blog post by Nundanket on his Horse and Musket Gaming blog  about 2 weeks ago, in which he cited two or three books that have been the most influential on his wargaming life. Since then, several of the blogs that I follow have picked up this theme, and I have found each and every post in this regard most interesting. This prompted me to add my own offering to the theme, which follows forthwith! 

   For as long as I can remember, I have loved books, and was a voracious reader. Similarly, I have always loved games and been fascinated by history. Unlike many others, I was never much interested in either modeling or playing with toy soldiers... until an act of serendipity! As I have related previously in my series of posts, "Of Dice and (Tin) Men", which starts here, I was browsing the stacks at our well stocked Public Library, a very frequent pastime of mine as a boy, when I came upon the book that changed my life, at least in the wargaming sense. I was an avid chess player as a boy, and was looking for books about chess strategy, when I chanced upon the tome below:

The Library copy was of course in pristine shape. I was thrilled acquire this copy form the library of a family freind, Dr. Edward Schortmann, years later. Like the Velveteen Rabbit, it has been well loved! 

    This book, published in 1962 and read by me circa 1966, revealed the world of miniature wargaming, of which I had previously been completely unaware. In simple but exciting prose, Mr. Morchauser set forth the background of wargames, their key principles, the types and kinds of miniature figures then available, and how to obtain them, and three closely related sets of rules for what he termed the Shock Period (antiquity up to about 1700), The Horse and Musket Period (1700 - 1914), and the Modern Period (World War 1 and beyond). I was hooked from the first pages, and have never looked back since then! 

    It turns out that Joe was the editor of LOOK magazine, a major US magazine published in large format that used striking pictures to covey much of its stories. Its coverage of the Civil Rights movement and the Vietnam War was particularly influential. He even managed to get an article published in LOOK about Wargaming in 1960There are a number of articles by and about Joe on the Tabletop Talk site (TT was the title of one of Jack Scruby's several wargames publications). Joe attended Bard college in Dutchess County, NY, and settled in Puoghkeepsie,NY; both of which are within an hour or so's drive from both where I grew up and where I have worked the past 36 years. While at Bard College, Joe was exposed to Professor Gerard de Gre, another of the "Old Guard" of  Historical Miniature Wargaming, and that ingirted his interest in the hobby. It turns out that Gerry became the regular wargames opponent of Charlie Sweet, who I was privileged to meet at the end of 1973, courtesy of my (then new) wargames freind, Joe Fish. There is more about Charlie in the "Of Dice and (Tin) Men" series, and an upcoming blog post. 

    Curiously, I have never played a game with Morschauser's rules. Considering their pivotal role in my personal wargames history, this is a deficiency I plan to remedy shortly. Stay tuned to these pages; I have at least a couple of such games in the pipeline!  :-)

    The second book was also a somewhat chance encounter. Not long after discovering How to Play Wargames in Miniature, I was reading the Book Review section of the Sunday New York Times. At the time, the entire Sunday Times weighed about 5 pounds, and unlike most guys, this was my favorite section; I never even looked at the sports pages, LOL! This particular Sunday, there was a review of a book about Napoleon. I realized that I knew next to nothing about the man; in US schools, he receives brief mention as the successor to the French Revolution, his involvement in the Louisiana Purchase, and the background to the War of 1812, and that's about it! It is little wonder that Americans in general are famously ignorant of World history. In any event, my next trip to the Library resulted in my taking out several books about Napoleon, but the key one was The Campaigns of Napoleon, by David Chandler.  

Another find in the Public Library; this is my personal copy, acquired many years thereafter.

    This book of course requires no real commentary when talking to any wargamer with even a passing interest in the Napoleonic Wars. I read the book from cover to cover (1,000+ pages) in less than a week. After that, I checked it out of the Library at least a dozen times over the years, probably more! I was fascinated with the man himself, and the incredible scope of the Napoleonic Wars, and the countless nations and personalities involved. It certainly cemented a lifelong focus on the Napoleonic Wars for my Wargaming activities. My current Napoleonic Collection is nearly 8,000 figures, and  will top out well over that in the end. I must have over 100 books related to Napoleon, the Napoleonic Wars, Napoleonic Uniforms, etc., but if I could keep just one, it would be this one, ands down!

   My first armies were 25 mm painted flats from Aloys Ochel in Kiel, Germany. I found the black and white pictures of the flats in Morchauser's book very appealing, and had little confidence in my artistic abilities. The cost of the figures was very reasonable as well, and the catalog was reasonably easily understood with teaching myself a bit of German. However, over time I wanted more control of which regiments were depicted. That was fueled by the next book.

My copy, acquired circa 1970. The quality of the bindings wasn't great, and there are inaccuracies, but the volume of information and the artistry were and are superb for the price!

    One of the great things about Joe's book was the listing of manufacturers and wargames periodicals. I quickly subscribed to the old NEWA Courier and Don Featherstone's The Wargamer's Newsletter, as well as Jack Scruby's on and off again publications. In one or more of them  there was a review of this book, which I purchased immediately. The variety and color of Napoleonic uniforms depicted was astounding!  I sold all my flats and started building and painting armies in 25mm, chiefly wargames figures by Jack Scruby, augmented with a few Hinton Hunt figures. 

This second volume came out a year or so after the first. 

    With the help of these illustrations (and teaching myself to read some very basic French), I settled on the French and Austrian Armies as my primary forces, augmented by some Bavarians and Russians.  All manner of Confederation of the Rhine troops followed, along with Portuguese, Brunswickers, Danes, Swedes, Prussians and more. My original flat armies were French and British, but I didn't paint any British figures for almost 30 years after that! However, they were eventually added in due course, followed by my Spanish Napoleonics a few years ago. I still plan to paint hundreds more  Napoleonics in the next few years. Lead addiction is a real thing, as many of us can attest. 

My favorite centerfold.  Well, almost!  :-)

    Many other periods and armies have followed, as chronicled here on my blog, but Napoleonics have always been my first love. With the inspiration provided by the paintings of Fred and Liliane Funken, it is easy to see why! Thank you, Joe, David, Fred, Liliane, and countless others for the joy of this somewhat eccentric but glorious hobby of ours~!

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Chariot era skirmishers: Archers

Dressed similarly to the Slingers shown earlier this month, there were a lesser number of skirmishing Archers in Bill's collection.

Some color added to the quivers and their straps differentiates the various 4 figure units. 

Likewise the different tufts and rocks added to the basing varies by unit. 

Bill used a yellowish pale tan for the flesh color, suggesting Middle Eastern skin tones. 

I debated changing that somewhat, but ultimately decided against it. 

Once again, these could act as auxiliary troops to most chariot era armies. 

These 4 units of Archers, added to the 7 units of Slingers make 11 units and 44 figures.
Yet to come - the Javelinmen!