On parade! Pirates and swashbucklers!


Continuing with my On Parade! postings in which I’m attempting to review every wargames figure I own, this time we take a look at my pirate collection. 

It’s odd, isn’t it? In this age of parents not letting kids play with toy soldiers or toy guns, and schools not teaching about battles and soldiers, we still find that kindergartens and primary schools love pirates. Some of the most blood-thirsty, villainous, chauvinistic characters around, and yet little Johnny and Sally sit and make eye-patches and cardboard swords (swords?!) in class. On the other hand, maybe it isn’t so surprising – after all, pirate crews were very democratic, and feminists might approve of pirates like Ann Bonny and Mary Read.

Anyway, I’m not complaining – I love pirates! So they form part of my wargames collection, and have provided many an exciting and fun-filled game.


Yes, that’s a skeleton pirate on the left (from Moonlight Miniatures). All the other figures are by Wargames Foundry. You can see Calico Jack all in white, Bartholomew Roberts in his salmon pink coat, Anne Bonny firing a pistol in the background, Blackbeard with his eponymous black beard, and a quartermaster in his bulky green coat.


This group includes an army or marine officer in his scarlet coat, and a Royal Navy captain.  There’s also a musician blowing a very long trumpet, and a merchant captain dressed in black.


Charles Morgan is on the extreme left. Behind him is a female pirate, and then an old gentleman in wig and glasses (perhaps’ a ship’s doctor?). Pirates were very multi-cultural, as can be seen by the black and the Arab chaps fighting alongside the Russian-looking guy at the back and the Scandinavian on the right.


Here is my whole collection. As with my other pics, click on it to see the enlarged version.


There are five more pirates in my collection. These date right back to my childhood in the early 70s, and are plastic cereal box freebies which I or my brother painted at some stage. They’re actually very characterful – albeit cartoonish – figures. I just keep them for old time’s sake.


That concludes the pirates section of my On Parade! postings. Next time I’ll look at another part of my wargaming collection, so keep visiting.

On Parade! 17th century French crew


In my last On Parade! posting I showed off my Dutch crew for the pirate game Blood and Plunder. This time it is the turn of the French.


Boucaniers: The boucaniers were known for their deadly accuracy. These hunters of cattle and swine came from the western end of Hispaniola, and lived a rough backwoods life. It wasn’t long before these enterprising woodsmen began attacking passing Spanish ships, usually from small canoes or other small watercraft.


Flibustiers: These were only second only to the boucaniers in experience in raiding Spanish ships and settlement. Like most French fighting men of the time, they preferred to quickly move into close action where they could bring their braces of pistols to bear at point blank range.


Milices des Caraïbes: These militia formed the primary defence forces of the French Caribbean. They ranged from well-equipped companies manned by former buccaneers, free blacks, or planters to poorly equipped ones composed mainly of indentured servants, poor workers and slaves.


Marins: French sailors had great experience in naval combat from their many engagements in Europe, the Mediterranean and the Americas. Usually armed with fine French pistols, they excelled at boarding actions.


My commanders (on the right in the above pic) include a rather dandy-ish generic French captain, and the notorious buccaneer Francois L’Olonnais. The latter was an intrepid and inspiring leader, but also almost certainly a sociopath. Spaniards would choose rather to die or sink fighting than surrender to him, knowing they would have no mercy at his hands.

So that’s my French force. Next time we’ll look at pirates! And don’t forget to visit my other On Parade! postings, in which I’m gradually doing inspection parades of every army in my wargaming collection.

On parade! 17th century Dutch crew


Continuing my sporadic series of On Parade! postings, we come to my so-called Pirate collection – not all of whom are actually pirates! So let’s start with my newest Blood and Plunder faction, the Dutch. As per normal, click on the pictures to enlarge them. 

According to the Blood and Plunder rule book, the French were the first to singe the Spanish beard in the New World, the English were to set the beard aflame, but it was the Dutch who truly scourge the whiskered Spaniard from head to toe. Few indeed hated the Spanish as did the Dutch, as with a vengeance they followed their ‘Sea Beggar’ ancestors.

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The 28mm figures that make up my Dutch force are all from Firelock Games. They are certainly beautifully sculpted, and really capture the look of the era.

To the right of the above picture are my two commanders. The flamboyant genetleman in yellow is a generic Dutch captain, whom I have painted to resemble Lieutenant Willem van Ruytenburch in Rembrandt’s famous Night Watch painting.

The figure in black is Piet Heyn, the ‘Delftshaven Terror of the Deep’. His most famous triumph was the capture of the Spanish Treasure Fleet in 1628, but that was simply just an exclamation mark to his long successful career.


Militie: The Dutch militia in the Caribbean and South America were largely a product of the Dutch West India Company. Enterprising settlers from the Netherlands made up just over half of the Dutch colonial militia. These citizens of the Republic fought shoulder to shoulder with the other national groups that augment their ranks, using traditional European tactics.

I based the green uniforms on the recent movie about Admiral de Ruyter, though I’ve no idea what they based their research on!


‘Zeelieden’ and ‘Enter Ploeg’: Progeny of the North Sea and heirs of the ‘Sea Beggars’, the Dutch sailors of the seventeenth century were uniquely equipped to be masters of the sea and sail. A great deal of romance is attached to mariners in the culture of the Netherlands. They are regarded as champions of Dutch liberty and the promise of empire. 

Some of this group are members of the ‘Enter Ploeg’. Victory in naval combat often rests on the most harrowing part of the engagement: a successful boarding action. Only the most battle-tested crew are trusted to transgress the gunwales of an enemy vessel and claim a foothold. Amidst a hail of musket fire, the boarding party thrusts headlong into hostile territory, breaching bulkheads with boarding axes and clearing decks with grenadoes and blunderbusses, breaking enemy defences and making way for the rest of their crew.


Kapers: The term sailor and soldier are interchangeable for Dutch privateers. Naval success for the Netherlands depends on every mariner being a master seaman and proficient in their martial skills. Even merchant sailors need to be ready to bear arms if their captain decides to turn privateer once he unloads his cargo.

In my next On Parade! article I will look at the French, and later my generic pirates.

Dutch force for Blood and Plunder *really* afloat


I’ve been working on some 28mm Dutch figures for my Blood and Plunder forces. These are exquisitely sculpted figures, which my fairly impressionistic style of painting doesn’t really do justice to.


I based my militia on the marines/soldiers in the recent movie about Admiral de Ruyter, who wear green coats. I’ve no idea what they based their research on … but it is good enough for me!


I loosely based my two commander figures on Rembrandt’s famous painting, The Night Watch.


For these pics, I posed my miniatures on a 3D-printed ship from Printable Scenery … afloat in my spa. She only sunk with all hands once!


Black Seas fleets finished


A couple of postings ago I wrote that I was working on constructing, painting and rigging a couple of fleets of ships for Warlord’s Black Seas game. Well, they’re finished!

In the picture above you can see a French third-rate ship taking on a similar British vessel, whilst in the background a small Spanish brig scurries away.


My fleets consist of the three sizes of ship shown here, from the large third-rate at the back, to the frigate, and finally the small brig in the front.


This photo gives a good view of the rigging. It was a bit fiddly to do, but worth it for the overall effect. Note how scrunching up the paper flags makes them look realistic.


The French and British third-rates get to grips, whilst two brigs hover in the background.

The shrouds and ratlines for climbing the masts are clear plastic. Most of the time this looks fine, but occasionally they shine when the light hits them. I did try painting some of them with matt varnish, but they ended up cloudy – not recommended!


The sterns of the third-rate and the frigate are very ornate, and come up really well with a combination of dry-brushing and washes. The brig’s stern is more simple (I’ve just noticed that the join line is visible, and needs sanding off!).

For those who are interested, the water effect in the above photos is from the sea mat supplied in the Black Seas starter box. I painted the sky myself.


The thrill of being published in ‘Wargames Illustrated’


It was with much excitement that I opened up ‘Wargames Illustrated’ (issue#385, November 2019) today, as I knew it contained my article on my imagi-nation, the Barryat of Lyndonia.

Every writer knows the thrill of the first sight of a newly published article. Will it look good? Will they put the right pics in? Will it read as well as it did in my final draft?

Well, I was delighted at how the finished six-page article looked. They even tarted it up by adding stills from the movie ‘Barry Lyndon’, on which my imagi-nation is based.


Followers of my blog will be aware of the Barryat, as my project has featured here many times. When I asked ‘Wargames Illustrated’ if they were interested in an article about it, they were very keen.

Hopefully readers will enjoy the article. It is a little different in that it doesn’t have any orders-of-battle, scenarios or ratings for particular rules.  Instead, it is a very general  jaunt through my project to merge movies and imagi-nations. 


The theme of this particular issue is ‘fictional heroes’, so my article fits well – albeit it does seem a little odd to be juxtaposed with Judge Dredd and Captain Flint.


I wonder if anyone will take up my light-hearted suggestions of other potential movie-based imaginations? Maybe a Napoleonic-period country called the Richardy of Sharpe, or the colonial setting of the Unholy Flashman Empire?!



Tiny, tiny ships with tons of detail


Considering their diminutive size, these model Napoleonic ships from Warlord Games are packed with an incredible amount of detail.

As mentioned in my last posting, I am currently working on putting together a couple of fleets from their ‘Black Seas’ range.

This weekend I’ve almost completed a couple of third-rate ships-of-the-line, and a another frigate.  Just the ratlines, sails and flags to go …