A Dutch farmhouse for 28mm WW2 gaming


This weekend I completed a little ruined Dutch cottage to whet my appetite for the forthcoming exciting new range of 28mm WW2 Dutch figures by May ’40 Miniatures.

I spotted this Airfix model by chance in a half-price sale at a local model shop. I nearly walked past, because it was 1/76 scale – way too small for 28mm miniatures, I thought.


But the architecture of this model kept drawing me back to look at it. It was just so like the little brick cottages I had often ridden past on my bicycle during my trips to the southern Netherlands to visit extended family.

Then I noticed that the model didn’t have a floor, so it might be easy to add a foundation to the bottom of the walls, and so heighten the front door.  Maybe, just maybe, this could actually work with 28mm miniatures after all?

Ah well, at half-price, even if it didn’t work out, it wouldn’t break the bank. So I splashed out and bought one to test.

Opening the box at home, I found a very nicely cast one-piece building in resin. There was also a small packet containing four photo-etched brass window-frames and some panes of plastic ‘glass’ for them.


The model itself is rather curious. As I’ve already said, the design is spot-on for what it is trying to portray. It really does feel like a Dutch cottage – as I remember them, anyway. But why oh why a ruined one? Firstly, I would’ve thought an intact cottage would have much wider appeal, to all those Dutch model railroaders for example.

Secondly, the ‘ruining’ isn’t particularly well done – there’s an odd square hole in the roof, total ruin at the back of the cottage but without any rubble, floorboards that look like they’ve been carefully cut rather than smashed, no rafters showing where the roof has come down, etc. The only ruining that looks right is where several windows have been peppered with bullets and small projectiles, presumably to target enemy marksmen sheltering inside.


Anyway, on with the project. As I had envisaged, it was dead easy to add a 1cm deep ‘foundation’ layer of foam-core board to the bottom of the walls.  This of course detracted from the distinctive very low window sills of a Dutch cottage, but it still looked OK. And it did make the door much higher, so that a 28mm figure could fit through (I haven’t got any Dutch yet, so there’s a couple of rather out-of-place French Foreign Legionnaires in my photos!). I also added some flooring on the ground.

Painting was easy. I first spray-painted the model black overall. I then painted the brick areas with grey, and dry-brushed them with a terracotta colour. This left the grey showing though as mortar. However, I thought this looked a bit stark, so I added liberal patches of a dark wash to tone down the mortar. I also picked out a few bricks in differing shades of brown and red. I was really pleased with the result, which as you can see from the pictures, has come out quite realistic.


I dry-brushed the black roof with dark grey, and then picked out all the trim with a very light grey, exactly as per the painting guide on the box-lid.

The brass window frames are a nice touch that really bring the model to life. However, only four sets are supplied, which means several windows have apparently had their frames completely blown out with no trace remaining. I thought this looked unrealistic, so I chopped up one of the window frames into several pieces, so that each ruined window could have at least a bit of frame still clinging tenaciously. I also found some frames in my spare parts box that fitted the small upper windows perfectly.

I cut the ‘glass’ panes to represent shattered glass – surely the windows wouldn’t have remained unbroken with the whole back of the house gone!


Finally, I decided the building looked silly without rubble. I found an old brick in my garden, and smashed off a corner with a hammer. I pulverised the piece of brick with the hammer, until it was just brick-dust and grit. I mixed this with PVA glue, and then slopped dollops of the mixture onto the house. I inserted some broken window-frames and pieces of old brickwork from my spares box into the piles of brick gloop, and – hey presto – perfect rubble!

If I was being really pedantic, I should probably have done something about the chimneys –  or, rather, about the lack of fireplaces and the odd positioning of the chimneys just above windows. But there is a limit to even my pedantic-ness!

So there you have it, a small ruined Dutch cottage, perfect for 28mm.


OK, it does still have a pretty small foot-print (10cm by 7cm). But I don’t think it will look too out-of-kilter, as you can see here with it placed beside the Perry Miniatures colonial church for comparison purposes.

Overall, a very nice little model that I think will work for my 28mm gaming. I just hope that Airfix will also make an intact version of this cottage one day!



Filed under WW2

I was there – a Kiwi at Pickett’s Charge


Back in 1998 I travelled to the USA to take part in a huge reenactment of the Battle of Gettysburg. The highlight of the three days was taking part in Pickett’s Charge, the doomed frontal attack by the Confederates against the Union infantry and artillery ensconced behind a stone wall. In the real battle in 1863, the majority of Confederate troops fell or retreated before they got to this stone wall, but a few did make it over, until they too were killed or captured.

To reenact this turning point in American history, it was important that just as many reenactors fell before they got to the wall. Because every Confederate reenactor wanted the distinction of climbing over the wall, this was done by way of a lottery, with everyone except the winners having to die or retreat before reaching the wall – I was very fortunate to be one of the few who drew a winning number!


There were about 12,000 Confederate reenactors involved in Pickett’s Charge, which meant we were doing a full scale reenactment of the event. We had to cover about half a mile of open ground, before finally reaching the blue-uniformed Federal infantry, lined up about four deep for the entire half-mile or so length of the low stone wall and fenceline.

In silence, each Confederate brigade headed off towards its ‘destiny’. We did a few obliques (diagonal movements) to place ourselves in the correct position, having some problems with our line bowing all the time. It seemed no time at all till we reached the first obstacle, a wooden fence denoting the Emmitsburg Road.

At this point the yell came for those who had drawn ones in the lottery to take a hit. Marching onwards, it must have made an impressive sight to the spectators, as the units shrunk with casualties streaming our behind their trail – it certainly looked it on each side as brigade after brigade of Confederates headed towards the long line of Union soldiers behind their stone wall. (Jill Russell photo)


Down went our twos and threes, our corporal shouting for them to go down. Then at a run, instinctively bowing our heads, hunching our shoulders, and leaning forward as though walking into a headwind, we crossed the final gap towards the stone wall, the fours going down all around us. I clambered up onto the wall, behind which there was a twenty-yard gap, filled already with Confederate and Union ‘bodies’, then the solid line of Union blue. I ran towards them, watching others round me crashing down to the ground.

I felt someone brush past me, and saw it was General Armistead, carrying his hat pierced on the end of his sword (a famous moment in American history). At this moment, I made it to the front cover of the special Gettysburg edition of Civil War News. The photo below depicts General Armistead during Pickett’s Charge, and there I am right beside him! (Julio C Zangroniz photo)


I then decided that it was time I went down myself.  I stayed down for a while, watching Union troops shooting, and hearing their ‘Hurrah!’ as the Confederate assault was thrown back. I looked back at the field, which was totally covered with casualties and retreating rebels running back individually and in small groups. There was a group of Confederate and Union soldiers standing near me, so I ‘limped’ over to see what they were looking at. In the centre of the group lay the ‘dying’ General Armistead.

After a while the shooting began to ease off, and it was evident that the battle was at an end. Taps was played on a bugle, and in a very emotional moment, we all, Confederate and Union alike, stopped and took off our caps to honour those real soldiers who fought 135 years ago.

Note: You can read more about my three days at Gettysburg on this old posting about my Gettysburg experience (posted back in February 2012).



Filed under American Civil War, Reenactment

Bolt Action: Spahis and Foreign Legion vs Germans


Last night I pitched my WW2 Free French against Scott Bowman’s Germans in a 600+ point game of Bolt ActionScott, of course, is famous as being the owner of the Hobby Corner – probably the only pharmacy in the world that stocks wargaming models and paints!


The above mid-game shot shows Scott in action, closely watched by his son. As you can see, he has a large wargames room with three tables. He’s now even adding two more tables in the adjacent garage. A great venue for gaming nights!

The board loosely represented a cultivated area somewhere in the Middle East. Actually, it was just the table still set up after Scott’s last game, but with his pine trees replaced with palms, and a European cottage with a Middle Eastern house. So vaguely Syria or Lebanon or somewhere like that …

My objective for the game was to hang onto the cornfield and the adjacent piece of road situated in the middle of the table. We delineated the actual objective area with some miscellaneous crates and oil-drums. Scott’s objective, of course, was to seize this area.


Before the game started, I was allowed to emplace two units on the objective – I chose a Foreign Legion infantry unit and a 75mm howitzer (you can just see the latter in the distance in the above picture). I would then bring the remainder of my forces onto the table as reinforcements over the next two turns.

My first reinforcement to arrive was this Dodge Tanake truck, which careered in to take hold of the crossroads on the right flank. As it screeched to a stop, the Tanake’s gunners spotted a German sniper team hidden in the undergrowth, and let fly – no more sniper team! Unfortunately they couldn’t also hit a nearby forward mortar  observer, which was to prove disastrous later in the game.


At the other end of the table, my white-capped Foreign Legionnaires rushed from the objective area, scattering livestock as they raced the Germans to be the first to occupy a ruined building that could otherwise have threatened the French left flank.


Having taken the ruined building and survived the German unit’s return fire, in the next turn the Legionnaires launched an all-out charge against their enemy. Luck favoured the bold, and the German unit was eliminated after two rounds of vicious fighting – though in doing so the brave Legionnaires lost half their number.


Meanwhile, back at the crossroads on the French right flank the action was also hotting up.  A German command car (a captured Jeep) had rushed up the road to threaten another unit of Legionnaires who had just arrived as my second reinforcements. But it was a move too far for the Jeep, which was quickly hit and destroyed.

The red plastic marker is a clever device that indicates a unit is pinned down by enemy fire. You can turn a dial on the base to show how many pins it represents (the more pins a unit suffers, the harder it is to get it to obey orders). Whilst these markers are indeed clever, I do think they look artificial and so detract from the overall look of the game – I would perhaps disguise them with some cottonwool smoke.


Another view of the burning Jeep. Scott’s smoke even contained a little candle-light flickering away to create dramatic effect! In the distance, the French 75mm gun in the objective area was still hammering away unsuccessfully at some German units located on that hillock on the horizon.


Now the Germans brought on their own anti-tank gun to threaten the crossroads. It aimed a potshot at the Dodge Tanake. Luckily the driver spotted the threat. He quickly graunched into reverse gear, and, engine screaming,  the Tanake accelerated backwards around the corner and out of danger. Whew!


The second unit of Legionnaires also turned at the crossroads and followed the reversing Tanake towards the objective area. I had just remembered I would lose the game if I left the objective unoccupied through becoming distracted into firefights on other parts of the table. The rules state that the objective can only be claimed by infantry, not vehicles.

Meanwhile, the 75mm howitzer carried on banging away ineffectively, having already lost a crew member from a hidden German mortar fire (remember that pesky spotter the Tanake hadn’t been able to eliminate earlier in the game?!).


Sacre bleu!  Disaster as my howitzer gets destroyed by another direct hit from that German mortar!


On the left flank, my newly-painted Conus auto-canon finally made its gaming debut, its Moroccan Spahi crew distinctive in their red sidecaps. The Heath Robinson-ish contraption accelerated up the road to reinforce my men at the objective area.


Remember that first unit of Legionnaires we last saw as they charged and destroyed an enemy infantry unit at the ruined house? Well, off they go again, this time charging a German machine gun nest. Once more luck was on their side, and the machine gun crew was wiped out.


The French began to converge on the objective area. There had been a moment of panic earlier when that blasted mortar got a direct hit on a unit of Legionnaires who had been sheltering behind the Tanake, killing them all.


But once the French commander and his small team arrived, along with the Conus, they quickly regained control of the situation.

All guns now bore on the only remaining German infantry squad hidden behind the stone wall in the distance. There was no way they could stand so much fire, and when the German squad was eliminated, Scott reached over the table to shake my hand and concede the game.


Let’s finish with another quick look at my two rather curious vehicles. Firstly, here is the Dodge Tanake by Perry Miniatures. During the war, approximately ten Dodge trucks were armoured and armed with 37mm anti-tank guns and a couple of M24/29 light machine guns. They were used by the French, Vichy French, Free French and Syrian forces.


And now my latest model – the Conus, also by Perry Miniatures. The Moroccan Spahis used these Conus guns, which were CMP 30cwt trucks with a 75mm M1897 gun mounted on a turret race taken from a captured Italian M13/40 tank. The idea was proposed by a Lt. Conus, hence the name. Twelve Conus guns made up the 3rd Squadron of the Régiment de Marche de Spahis Marocains.


Filed under Perry Miniatures, Warlord Games, WW2

‘Sharp Practice’ game report – Fondler’s Colonel

British infantry in town

“With his ‘extensive’ Militia (sorry, Miwitia) background, Colonel Grabbe-Ghoullies felt it should be he, not that guttersnipe Captain Fondler and his Rifles (sorry, Fondwer and his Wifles), who should be the one to rescue (sorry, wescue) the beautiful spy, the Marquesa de Una Paloma Blanca (and no doubt weap whatever wewards were on offer).” 

Back in May 2009, the now-defunct Kapiti Fusiliers website published the following game report of our first game of the Too Fat Lardies’ Sharp Practice rules for skirmish battles in the age of black powder. As this was our first game with these rules, we got a few things wrong. But overall the rules worked, and a story emerged from the chaos.

I thought it was such a fun game report, that it’s worth re-publishing here for your entertainment.

The scenario we played was Fondler’s Colonel from the The Compleat Fondler scenario book, also by the Too Fat Lardies. Captain Richard Fondler, of course, is a take-off of that well-known mullet-wearing 95th Rifles officer, Richard Sharpe.


The premise of the game is that the British are to pick up a Spanish spy, the Marquesa de Una Paloma Blanca, who is currently under the care of Abbott Costello at a local monastery. At the same time, they are to deliver a cart-load of gold to a Spanish guerilla chieftain, El Cascanueces. Meanwhile, Colonel Daniel Laroux of the French Imperial Intelligence Service is setting a dastardly trap to capture his hated nemesis, Captain Richard Fondler.

Before you continue reading this game report, you might like to scroll to the bottom of this page to read the scenario notes leading up to this battle. Spoiler alert: if you intend to play this scenario, be aware that there are some spoilers contained in the scenario notes.


(above) Colonel Grabbe-Ghoullies, the new commander of the South-East Essex, leads the column to rescue the Marquesa.

With his ‘extensive’ Militia (sorry, Miwitia) background, Grabbe-Ghoullies feels he should be the one to rescue the beautiful spy (and no doubt reap whatever rewards are on offer), not Fondler and his Rifles (sorry, Fondwer and his Wifles). No low-born guttersnipe who has become an officer out of the ranks (sorry, wanks) will outshine him. So he orders Fondler’s Rifles to a lowly wagon-guard role. The scenario rules state that the Rifles can’t do anything major until they are either fired upon or the redcoats suffer three or more casualties.


(above) French voltiguers under the command of Caporal-Bugler Petain (don’t ask – I just didn’t have enough ordinary French NCO figures, so used a bugler instead!) open fire on the British column from their eyrie amongst the rocky outcrops.

Lieutenant Harry Cost peels his company of redcoats away from the column to chase off these pesky skirmishers.


(above) Oh dear, the skirmishers score a kill on Lieutenant Cost’s company. Captain Fondler and Sergeant Paisley of the Rifles look on helplessly, still being under Grabbe-Ghoullies’ orders to stay out of the fight and guard the wagon.


(above) Caporal-Bugler Petain’s cornet catches the sunlight, making a perfect target for the redcoats. A bullet flies right down the cornet’s tube, badly wounding the caporal-bugler. His voltiguers obviously don’t think too much of him, because he is left lying in the hot sun for the remainder of the game, instead of being carried to the rear.

Shortly after, Sergeant Ducrot, another French NCO, runs up the hill to take over command (not in this picture yet), so no major damage is done (other than to poor Petain and his cornet, of course).


(above) Harry Cost’s men blaze away furiously, while Fondler grits his teeth and wishes they would just get up there into the outcrops and weed those Crapauds out – or send in the Rifles to do the job. Even his wagon has been taken away from him now.


(above) Grabbe-Ghoullies finally gets his column moving – or inching- along the road, taking the gold cart with him, ordering Fondler to deal with the skirmishers at last.


(above) But hark, what is this? Do you hear the sound of drums coming from up the side road?


(above) Four companies of French infantry, lead by the Colonel Visage de Vache, hasten towards the battle. They were supposed to close the trap after the British passed the intersection, but their attack is launched prematurely and they march steadily towards the intersection before the British get there. Meanwhile, Sergeant Ducrot and his voltiguers continue peppering the British from the rocky outcrops.


(above) Colonel Visage de Vache proudly leads his column out. The grenadier company takes the lead.


(above) “Hop to it, mes amis, form line, and let’s give zese Ros Bifs some French dressing!” roars Colonel Visage de Vache to his men. The four companies swing into line with well-drilled precision.


(above) Colonel Grabbe-Ghoullies looks around wildly. A Fwench line in fwont of him, skirmishers to his left … maybe he should’ve stayed in the compfowtable miwiltia officers mess back in Bwighty.


(above) A pall of smoke drifts between the two formations, as the British column is decimated by the disciplined fire from the French line. The British companies suffer so much shock that after two volleys they begin to lose their bottle, and the game ends with a British surrender.

Oddly, it wasn’t till after I took the above photo that I noticed that Grabbe-Ghoullies, who had supposedly been badly wounded in front of his men by the French volleys, had not been wounded at all, but merely scarpered into cover (those sneaky British players!).

And so, what was the outcome?

Grabbe-Ghoullies, only his dignity harmed, will be captured by Colonel Visage de Vache. No beautiful Marquesa to entertain tonight, only a few wats in a locked woom behind the Fwench lines.

In the monastery, Colonel Daniel Laroux jumps up and down in frustration (then promptly falls over as he forgets he is tottering round on high heels). His carefully-laid plan to dress up as the Marquesa de Una Paloma Blanca (who is safely closeted miles away in a prison cell) and so ensnare Fondler to finally get his revenge for the false teeth his arch-nemesis had smashed in an earlier encounter, has been foiled by the over-efficiency of the line infantry officers. “One day, Capitaine Dick Fondler … one day I’ll get you!”

El Cascanueces, however, is pleased. He had thrown in his lot with Laroux. But with the British surrender, he has got his gold without having to risk anything at all.

Abbott Costello sleeps blissfully on, happily drugged with several bottles of cheap French plonk provided by the beautiful (but rather hairy and with big hands, now that he comes to think of it) “Marquessa de Una Paloma Blanca”. He remains totally unaware of all that has happened today.

Meanwhile, Captain Fondler and Sergeant Paisley beat a hasty retreat to the British lines. Fondler will have to report to Wellington that he has lost the gold and not rescued the Marquesa. But the two riflemen are sure to march together again one day soon, and retrieve Fondler’s honour.

OK, probably not the best of games for the British players, but that wasn’t so much their fault as that of the game-master (er … me) who let the French fusilier battalions come into the battle far too soon, and thus prevented the latter stages of the scenario from playing out. However, it was our first time, so lesson learned!




Scenario Notes

Based almost entirely on the scenario Fondler’s Colonel in The Compleat Fondler scenario book by the Too Fat Lardies.


“I see, Captain Fondwer, that you and your men weah the uniform of the Wifles. Is there a weason why you do not wish to be a pawt of my wegiment?”

Whatever Captain Richard Fondler had expected of the newly appointed colonel of the 1st Battalion of the South-East Essex, Sir Henry Grabbe-Goullies was not it. After three years fighting in Portugal the British Army had weeded out most of the stuffed-shirts amongst its commanders; they either learnt to fight or had been replaced. But the Army must’ve missed Sir Henry.

“No, sir.” Fondler fixed his eyes on an imaginary mark some six inches above the colonel’s head. “I am proud to command the light company of the South-East Essex, but I and my men are also proud to be riflemen, and we continue to wear this uniform as a mark of that.”

The colonel paused, his knuckles turning white as he fought to control his anger. “I must say, Captain, that I disappwove of your attire and, sir, of your wifles. Why, you’ve even got some Portugwese with your wiflemen! I am a fiwm bewiever in discipwine. My expewiences in the Miwitia have taught me that a unit that has dissipwine fights well. Your wiflemen and Portugwese do not have dissipwine!”

Sir Henry paused to wipe the spittle from his chin. “It is my intention to wemove your wifles and weplace them with muskets so that your men may line up with the west and fight as men!”

The colonel paused and stared at the rifleman before him. He had heard much of Captain Fondler, and none of it he liked. Now he could see that the rifleman was fighting to control his anger, confirming Sir Henry’s suspicions that Fondler would not be a good man in battle, would not have the clear head and cold heart needed for command; traits that Sir Henry had, he was sure, in abundance. He stroked his moustaches and allowed his lip to curl into what was both a sneer and a smile of victory. Order would be maintained.

CRASH! The door did not so much open as erupt, and a large man with a mop of unruly red hair wearing the uniform of a major of engineers flooded into the room. “Top o’ the mornin’ to you!” the newcomer bellowed.

Major Michael O’Stereotype was well known to Fondler; as well as being a major of engineers, he was one of Sir Arthur Wellesley’s exploring officers, roaming through the Peninsula in an attempt to discover information that would harm the Corsican Tyrant and assist the cause of His Britannic Majesty King George.

“Tis a fine day to be meeting yourself, Colonel.” The big man had turned to address Sir Henry. “I am havin’ your orders from Sir Arthur with me here, to be sure. Gather round this map and I’ll tell all.”

Sir Henry was aghast. He had been told to expect the major, and knew that the man was one of Sir Arthur’s most trusted confidants. It seemed clear, however, that the army in the Peninsula had lost all sense of discipline and propriety. First a guttersnipe who had been promoted to a captain, and now this bog-trotting buffoon!

The buffoon spoke, and Sir Henry had the distinct feeling that Sir Arthur’s orders were being conveyed to Captain Fondler rather than himself.

“You’ll loike this, Dick, it’s a cracker! One of our main agents in Spain is the beautiful aristocratic Marquesa de Una Paloma Blanca, the wife of the suitably absent Marques who happens to be many thousands of miles away in South America, and is probably impotent anyway. Now, the Marquesa has, through her incredible beauty, sophistication and not entirely appropriate behaviour for a married woman, penetrated the French intelligence network headed by Colonel Laroux of the Imperial Guard, a truly evil man whose sadism knows no bounds – oh, I forget Dick, you and he have already met.”

Fondler looked grim. He and Laroux had indeed met, and on several occasions the rifleman had been instrumental in foiling Laroux’s dastardly plans. In an act of revenge that he now felt he may come to regret, he had smashed the Frenchman’s false teeth.

“Well, the Marquesa has been unmasked,” the big Irishman continued. “It seems that she was caught whilst getting her hands on a list of French spies in Lisbon and only just escaped with her life. In a desperate act the Marquesa made contact with one of Spain’s most notable guerrilla leaders, El Cascanueces. He is escorting her to the Monastery of Madre de Deus, where Abbott Costello, one of our agents, will protect her until we can arrive.

“The monastery is two days from here. Dick, I need you to deliver a consignment of gold and powder to El Cascanueces. I fear that he is an untrustworthy ally, little more than a bandit in fact, and we need a gift to ensure he fulfils his part of the deal. Ten thousand guineas in gold should do that.” He looked across the map at the two faces, grinned and reached towards the colonel’s brandy decanter. “Now, let’s drink to your success, Dick!”

The colonel spoke first. “Hold with that bottle, sir! You pwopose, Major, to send Captain Fondwer to undertake a mission of such import?”

“I do, Colonel, and what is more, I know that he will not let me down.”

Sir Henry spluttered in amazement. “You, Major, may be pwepared to leave matters such as this in Fondwer’s hands. I am not. I can see now that life on campaign has been too fwee and easy these past years, and that a lack of discipwine permeates nearly all stwata of our army. Order must pwevail!”

The engineer’s expression had changed, his drink now forgotten. “Colonel, I will not release the consignment of gold and powder to any man other than Captain Fondler. These are my orders from Sir Arthur himself.”

In the ensuing silence Fondler could almost hear Sir Henry’s brain at work, his discomfort and anger as clear as Fondler’s had been earlier in the conversation. Then the colonel spoke.

“Vewy well. Captain Fondwer and his wiflemen may escort the gold, but it is my intention to lead this wescue mission, and fwom that you may not divewt me, Major. The Captain may guard your pwecious wagon. I think, however, that you will find that it is my wedcoats and their muskets who do the gweatest service.”

The colonel turned to the rifleman. “Captain Fondwer, be weady to march at 10 o’clock tomorrow morning.” Then, secure in the knowledge that he had out-manoeuvred both the captain and the major, he dismissed them from his presence.

O’Stereotype and Fondler walked together across the main square. “Mary, Mother of God,” the Irishman blasphemed, “you’ve got your work cut out with that eejit, so you do. You take care, Dick. Laroux has his men combing the mountains looking for the Marquesa. I can only pray that you get to her in time. Between you and me vital information is haemorrhaging out of Lisbon all the time and things look bleak for old Nosey. The sooner we get a list of Laroux’s agents the better things will be.”

Fondler’s face was troubled. “Aye Mick. If we fail we shall die at the hands of Laroux. If we succeed Sir Henry will claim a victory for the musket and we shall lose our rifles and, most likely, our green jackets too.”

British big men

Collated cards



Filed under Chiltern Miniatures, Front Rank, Kapiti Fusiliers, Napoleonics, Perry Miniatures, Uncategorized

Flats – two dimensions instead of three


Too many years ago for me to recall, as a callow twenty-one year old youth, I made my first overseas trip from New Zealand. This was during my first bout of enthusiasm for the wargaming hobby (my present involvement in the hobby was rekindled in my 40s), so I made a point of visiting some of the European shangri-la’s of miniature soldiers.

One of the most impressive of these was the Plassenburg Castle. This medieval fortress, nestled picturesquely above the beautiful Bavarian town of Kulmbach, houses a museum containing literally hundreds of thousands of flat tin soldiers, or “zinnfiguren” as they are known in Germany.

I couldn’t resist buying a few flat miniatures to keep as souvenirs. When I got back home to New Zealand, I painted the figures and arranged them onto bases. Since then these dioramas have accompanied me through the various flats and houses I’ve lived in, surviving my abandonment of the wargaming interest for twenty years, until my return to the hobby four years ago.

Over that period, they have survived remarkably well, considering their fragility. One halberd has snapped off, and the varnish has yellowed somewhat. But otherwise they are all still as good as new.

I’m afraid I can’t tell you too much about the painting techniques I used, as I’ve forgotten, it was so long ago. I’m not even sure if they were done in enamels or acrylics!

Here then, for your enjoyment and edification, are pictures of the flats in my small collection.


The first diorama, containing figures made by Maier, depicts a laboratory in the Plassenburg in 1677. The alchemist Krohnemann is showing Margrave Christian Ernst something that might just be gold (but probably isn’t!). There is also another gentleman and his lady friend, a priest, and an assistant. Even the table and stove are completely flat. As I recall, I made the bricks for the base out of Das modelling clay. The rather ugly title was made with Letraset (remember, we didn’t have PCs with printers back then!).


The next diorama depicts the great German writer Friedrich Schiller reading from his drama “Die Räuber” to his friends. He attended the Duke of Wurttemberg’s military academy, the Karlsschule, and was forced by the domineering duke to study medicine. After graduating in 1780 he became an army surgeon, attached to a military life he abhorred. He wrote “Die Räuber” in 1781, so perhaps this group of friends are fellow officers from the Wurttemberg army. The tree (also flat) came with this set, but I made the stone fence and the terrain from Das modelling clay. The ground has been covered with static grass.


The final group shows a princely travelling carriage, circa 1560. The carriage is accompanied by a horseman and two halberdiers. At one stage I did know who was in the carriage, but unfortunately I have long since lost those details. If I remember correctly, it was a wedding ceremony of one of the Kulmbach nobles. I never got round to basing this group (which probably accounts for the fact that this is the only group that has incurred some damage over the years – one of the halberdiers now has a broken weapon).

So, there we are, that is my small collection of flat figures. They certainly have a charm of their own. The animation and anatomy are perfect – the makers were true artists. Of course, they are of no use whatsoever for wargaming, but they certainly look nice in my study!

This article first appeared on the now-defunct Kapiti Fusiliers website on 10 September 2003. The story still holds true today thirteen years later, though I did have a wee  accident and dropped the top base, so it needs some touching up.  




Filed under Kapiti Fusiliers, Uncategorized

What is it?


Here’s a detail pic of my next modelling project with which I’ll unleash mayhem on my opponents in Bolt Action.  Know what it is?




Filed under Uncategorized, WW2

Good news and bad news

Let’s start with the good news.  May ’40 Miniatures have released production diagrams of the armoured car to accompany their forthcoming range of WW2 Dutch figures in 28mm. They’ve been hinting at this model of a Landsverk M36 for some time, but yesterday they finally released these pics.



The model will be  have a resin body and turret, and metal details. Not all the details are shown on these production images yet.

The M36 was a medium armoured car originating from Sweden, built by Landsverk as the L181. It was armed with a 37mm canon in a fully revolving turret, and three machine guns. The Dutch purchased twelve of these vehicles in 1936 and issued them to the 1st armoured car squadron. The Dutch later purchased fourteen M38 versions in 1938, which were mainly issued to the 2nd armoured car squadron.

Specifications (from War over Holland website)

Manufacturer: A.B. Landsverk [Landskrona, Sweden]
In service: 1936 – 1940


12 off M.36
12 off M.38
2 off M.38 command-car
Service: Cavalry, 1st and 2nd Squadron Armoured Cars
Role: Armoured reconnaissance, support, AT
Manufacturer optics: Nedinsco [Venlo, Holland]
Armament: 37 mm semi-automatic gun, Bofors
3 off machineguns 7.9 mm Lewis
Ammunition gun: HE and AP
Crew: 5 [2 drivers, 2 gunners, 1 commander]
Weight: 7 tonnes
Dimensions: 5.87 x 2.24 x 2.33 [L x W x H]
Chassis and engine: Daimler-Benz [M.36] and Büssing NAG [M.38]
Power: 150 hp approx.
Action-radius: 306 km
Max speed: 60 km/hr f.d., 40 km/hr r.d.
Armour: turret: 9 mm; balance 5 mm sloped



Now, the bad news. Unfortunately Eureka Miniatures didn’t get enough pre-orders to continue with their planned 1860s New Zealand Wars range.

Despite Eureka getting 23 respondents, which is very good for a project of this type, they only got pledges for AUD$3000 of the AUD$5000 needed to be raised  (a 40% shortfall in the revenue required). So they sadly decided that they couldn’t proceed with this project.

This is a real shame, as these would have been a very attractive and unusual range. It is perhaps that latter element that meant that these figures didn’t garner enough support.



Filed under Colonial New Zealand Wars, Eureka Miniatures, May 40, Uncategorized, WW2