Stunning Battle of Tsushima scenes in Japanese TV series

Here are some scenes from the Japanese NHK TV series Saka no Ue no Kumo (Clouds Above the Hill) depicting the naval Battle of Tsushima in 1905.

The special effects recreating the massive turn-of-the-century battleships in action are stunning – clouds of smoke belching from the funnels, seas crashing over the bows, spears of flame belching from the turrets.

Sarah Brightman singing ‘Stand Alone’ is a rather unexpected soundtrack for the visuals, but actually works really well.

I don’t know if this TV series has ever made it onto DVD, but it looks really interesting …



Filed under Movies, Pre-dreadnought naval

I should be dead …

lead mountain

There’s a wargaming superstition that if you reach the bottom of your ‘lead mountain’  of unpainted figures, you’ll die.  Well, I’ve been at the bottom of my lead mountain for a few weeks now, and I’m pleased to say that I’m still hale and hearty!

I’ve had several projects on the go over the last few years, but all have now either concluded, or are awaiting the manufacture of new figures.


Samurai:  I’ve painted two opposing factions (or ‘buntai’) for 28mm skirmish gaming, and made a lot of terrain.  But I seem to have used up all my enthusiasm for this period in getting this far.  No other possible factions really interest me.  And I have no intention of taking this period beyond skirmish anyway. So I’ve got enough figures and terrain for now.



Pirates:  This project has been pretty well completed for some time now.  We only play with smallish units anyway, so adding more figures to my already more-than-enough collection would be overkill.

More pirates


18th century ‘imagi-nation':  I’ve painted all the units that were in the film ‘Barry Lyndon’, so the next step in this project would be to paint some totally fictional units.  I’ve always fancied the green and red uniforms of the Russians.  Whilst such a unit would be imaginary, it would seem stupid not to paint actual Russian figures rather than simply re-colour the uniforms of some other nation.  However, my manufacturer-of-choice for this project, Minden Miniatures, doesn’t do Russians yet.  So this project is now on hold until they do (in 2015, I’m told).



Napoleonics:  I’ve got more than enough battalions of British, French, Portuguese and Spanish to play a reasonable Napoleonic game.  Adding more will be just repetitive, and I never use all my units at once anyway.  I’ve also got hordes of individually-based ‘big men’ for leading my troops under the ‘Sharp Practice’ rules – but as most of them haven’t even seen action yet, no more are required.

dtl_Spanish Guerilla Ambush


Colonial New Zealand Wars:  I’ve now got a couple of sides sufficient for  large skirmish games.  Like my Napoleonics, adding to them at the moment would be just ‘more of the same’, for which I really have no need.  However, this is  period dear to my heart, so if Empress Miniatures ever make anything else for this period, I’ll be in like Flynn!



Victorian science fiction:  I’ve only painted one unit for this, and it is barely Victorian science fiction, being a French Foreign Legion unit as they appeared during Maximilian’s Mexican Adventure.  But I just can’t drum up any more enthusiasm to continue with this project.

whole legion_IMG_1290


American Civil War:  I have a couple of miscellaneous units painted up , but this period doesn’t interest me enough to buy any more.



What about starting a completely new period, then?  Well, I hate being at the start-point of a project.  There is nothing out there that is calling to me sufficiently to overcome the hurdle of starting from scratch.

So, where does that leave me?  Well, I’m seeing his as a holiday from painting.  I think I’ll just wait out until either Minden Miniatures (for my Russians), or Empress Miniatures (for new NZ Wars figures) come through.

Another possibility is to do some vignettes to decorate the battlefield, especially for my Napoleonics.  Perry Miniatures and Westfalia are currently making some very nice wagons and other background stuff, such as this lovely little sutler’s cart.

westfaia sutler's cart


So, I aten’t dead yet!

aten't dead





Filed under Colonial New Zealand Wars, Eighteenth century, Napoleonics, Pirates, Samurai, Victorian Sci-Fi

Washington to Wairau with Wakefield

I found this article on the History Geek’s blog absolutely fascinating.  It describes an intriguing link between the burning of the White House in Washington in 1814, and the Wairau Affray in New Zealand in 1843.

The destruction of the White House is a scene most commonly associated with fictional alien invasions or terrorist plots on the big screen, but today marks two hundred years since an enemy force marched on Washington and set fire to the famous residence. This is the relatively unknown yet remarkable story of how one of the junior officers in the force that torched the White House went on to become the founding father of one of New Zealand’s earliest settlements and ultimately met his fate during a skirmish with one of the most revered and feared of all Māori chiefs – Te Rauparaha.  read more …


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Filed under Colonial New Zealand Wars, Napoleonics

Call To Arms 3: Other spectacular games


My last two postings covered the two display games I put on last weekend at Call To Arms: colonial New Zealand Wars and a samurai skirmish.

In this last posting about Call To Arms, I’ll look at some of the other eye-catching games that were on show.

Carrion up the Nile

This was easily the most spectacular game at the show.  But unlike my own two games, this wasn’t just a static display, but a fully functional pulp-era game, alive with loads of Indiana Jones-style derring-do.

IMG_3249_aThe huge table was almost entirely covered in an impressive Egyptian city, populated with lots of beautiful little vignette scenes.

IMG_3296_aHere’s one of those vignettes – a market place beside the mosque.

IMG_3272_aIt seems the punishment for short-changing or over-charging is pretty swift in this town.

IMG_3251_aCoach tour to Cairo …

IMG_3289_aThe police station.  Love that chunky Ehrhardt armoured car.

IMG_3295_aA police interview in progress in the station courtyard …

IMG_3294_aA show band in the sand?  With mummies dancing like an Egyptian?

IMG_3306_aOh, it’s all just a movie!

IMG_3308_aDown on the river-front …

IMG_3297_aLast call!  All visitors ashore!

IMG_3250_aThe city-scape of towers and domes.  Note the pyamid complex just visible in the distance.

IMG_3310_aAnd here we are at the foot of the pyramid.  There must surely be a secret entrance.

IMG_3305_aThe entry-level of the pyramid.

IMG_3304_aAnd down in the basement,surrounded by a lava-filled moat, there’s no doubt something special.  At least, that’s what all those gathering adventurers think.

More photos and a game report can be found on Wade’s World of Wargaming.  I must admit that this pulp fiction is an era of gaming I could get into, especially with scenery like this.

Dystopian Wars

I don’t know much about this fantasy steam-punk game, but it certainly looked impressive.   The models were very intricate, and beautifully painted.  I liked the water effect, too.



The delightful little Japanese fantasy game was played with a handful of beautifully painted figures.  The terrain changed from game to game, using a range of typically oriental items, even  including aquarium scenery.




More fantasy Japan

I’m not exactly sure which rules were being used in this game. But my eye was taken with the dramatic scenery. It included some excellent use of the third dimension (height), which is so often underplayed in wargames scenery.

Plus I loved seeing the Plastcraft Games pagoda, a plastic card kitset I have coveted for some time for my own samurai gaming.




Filed under Interwar, Samurai

Call To Arms 2: Samurai

This second post about my display games last weekend at Call To Arms in Wellington features my samurai scenery and figures.

The games I put on were static displays, one in the morning and then a completely different one on the same small table  in the afternoon.  The samurai were the subject of the afternoon display.

IMG_3280_aThis was actually a quick change from the colonial New Zealand Wars game I put on in the morning.  Essentially the terrain stayed the same, but the buildings and some of the trees have been replaced to quickly convert New Zealand into Japan.

Or, as several wags commented, it was still New Zealand, but depicting the film-set for ‘The Last Samurai’ in Taranaki!

IMG_3300_aThis was a chance to show off my Shogunate period buildings, which are wooden kits from 4Ground.  The river sections by Miniature World Makers also created a lot of interest.

IMG_3301_aSome cherry-blossom trees and a few Perry Miniatures villagers set the scene.   In the background, the banners of the warring Takeda and Hojo clans begin to appear.

IMG_3281_aA view behind the Takeda lines.  The samurai and ashigaru figures are all by Kingsford Miniatures.

IMG_3286_aTwo mounted samurai charge into single combat, whilst their retainers battle it out with bow, arquebus and pike.

IMG_3282_aMy favourite Japanese figures are the set of unarmoured samurai made by Perry Miniatures.   They are really animated, and capture the feel of the TV series ‘Shogun’.  Here two of them battle it out in a field of waving wheat.

IMG_3283_aAnother couple of unarmoured samurai fight on an arched bridge, in the shadow of an ornate torii gateway.

IMG_3284_aIn the temple confines, the last two unarmoured samurai are locked in combat near a large gravestone, whilst a Perry monk watches anxiously.

IMG_3293_aA last look at the temple complex …

In my next post, I feature some other spectacular  games that caught my eye at Call To Arms.


Filed under 4Ground, Kingsford Miniatures, Perry Miniatures, Samurai

Call To Arms 1: Māori vs British

Call To Arms is the annual wargames show held by the Wellington Warlords.  I’m not a member of Warlords, because although I work in Wellington, I live too far away to return for games in the weekend.  But most years I’m involved in a demo game of some sort at Call To Arms.

This year I actually went one better, and put on not one, but two demo games.  Well, to be exact, I put up two demo tables, as they weren’t games that were actually played, but static displays.

Over the next couple of postings, I’ll put up some photos of each of the displays.  Today’s posting is on my colonial New Zealand Wars game.  As always, click on the photos to see them in all their glory.

IMG_3276_aAlthough the table was small, it included several separate vignettes displaying typical events of the colonial New Zealand Wars.

I draped the front of the table with the flags of Britain and the Confederation of United Tribes.

IMG_3244_aAt one corner of the tables, the doughty old chief Kawiti defends his fortified pa against a British attack.  His warriors shoot through loop-holes cut in the bottom of the palisades, protected by banks of earth.

IMG_3265_bColonial militiamen acting as sappers lead the British lines as they attack uphill towards Kawiti’s pa.  The sappers’ task was to attempt to pull down or scale the palisades.

IMG_3258_aA couple of sharp-shooters from the 58th Regiment of Foot support the attack on Kawiti’s pa.

IMG_3261_aA huge naval 32-pounder has been dragged miles through the rugged bush, and is now set up on a rough wooden platform, ready to pound the Māori defences.

IMG_3247_aElsewhere a family defend their homestead against a Māori raid.  This vignette includes one of my favourite Empress Miniatures figures, the young girl flinching as she shoots her pistol at an oncoming warrior.

IMG_3270_aBehind the farmhouse, the British encampment looks peaceful enough, but …

IMG_3257_a… the bugler suddenly blows the alarum as his sergeant spots a war-party fording the nearby river intent on attacking the British forward post.

IMG_3264_bOn top of a ridge, Chief Hone Heke (wearing the sailor hat) exhorts hiw warriors to fight off a British attack.  Behind the warriors, a cloaked sub-chieftain does a fierce haka, or wardance.

IMG_3253_bA party of Royal Navy sailors ford the stream at the foot of the Māori-held ridgeline.

IMG_3256_aMeanwhile, colonial militia escorting a supply column are surprised by a Māori war-party suddenly emerging from the thick bush on the side of the road.

IMG_3263_aColonial militia defend a churchyard from a Māori attack on two sides.

IMG_3246_aWell, this young fellow was certainly inspired by my display!

In my second Call To Arms posting, take a look at the next game I put on using almost the same terrain, but resulting in a totally different setting.


Filed under Colonial New Zealand Wars, Empress Miniatures

Basing Royal Navy and Maori artillery for colonial NZ Wars


I’ve just completed basing my artillery for the colonial New Zealand Wars.  This has been a last minute rush, as I’m putting on a display at Call To Arms in Wellington tomorrow.

One of the guns is a huge naval 32-pounder that has been dragged miles inland into the bush and placed on a roughly-constructed wooden platform, to pound a Maori pa into submission.


Meanwhile, the Maori themselves have got a captured carronade with which to return fire on the British camp, using any old iron as ammunition.  The gun is mounted on a wooden slide, secured with blocks and tackle to a couple of handy tree stumps.


The figures and guns are all by Empress Miniatures.  The bases were cut to my specifications by local company, Dopey Dog.  I glued magnetic sheet underneath them to attach the figures, who are mounted on metal washers.

I’ve also used the same basing method for my British and colonial infantry, and Maori warriors.


I’ll take photos of the display tomorrow (along with a samurai display I’m also doing), and post them here soon.


Filed under Colonial New Zealand Wars, Empress Miniatures