As 2013 draws to a close, it’s a chance to look back on the hobby highlights of the year. Having a blog certainly helps in this process, making it easy to recall what happened when. And totting up the highlights, it is surprising how much I have actually accomplished, considering I’ve felt this year has been a very light one for me hobby-wise.
So join me as I take a look back at some of my Dressing the Lines postings that tell the story of 2013. I’ve put links in the text to take you back to the postings in question, if you want to delve deeper into any of my past year’s hobby highlights.
Well, 2013 nearly came to a sticky end before we’d even reached the end of April, because my lead mountain nearly ran out. As any wargamer will tell you, the day your backlog of lead figures awaiting their turn to be painted runs out, that’s the day you die. And I got close – very close!
However, all was well that ended well, and with a spurt of enthusiasm provided by a brand new project, the lead pile began increasing slowly again. The new project was to build a small skirmish force of samurai. Painting these has turned out to be a lot harder than I thought, with all that intricate lacing on the armour nearly driving me blind. So far it hasn’t come out quite as well as I had hoped – acceptable, but definitely not my best work.
Colonial New Zealand Wars
My ongoing interest in the colonial New Zealand Wars was given a boost by Empress Miniatures’ release of a couple of fantastic sets of figures during the year.
First it was the naval landing party, which I managed to complete painting. These are very characterful figures, with many potential uses beyond just the New Zealand Wars.
Then a few months later came a delightful set of civilians and a Maori carronade – these still sit waiting on my painting table, but won’t be long now.
Another ongoing project over the last few years has been to build up the armed forces of the fictional Barrayat of Lyndonia, based on the movie Barry Lyndon.
This year I added some reinforcements to the Truchseß Dragoons, to bring them up to 24 men. This allows me to break the regiment into three equal sized squadrons.
I also painted some Austrian and Prussian general staff figures, who will represent either contracted officers to the Lyndonian army, or visiting dignitaries to review my soldiers as they parade.
Napoleonics were very much on the back-burner for me this year, after a decade of building up my Peninsular War armies. However, I did still complete one new unit, a colourful Spanish dragoon regiment in their almost Noddy-like uniforms of yellow, blue and red.
I get some of my biggest enjoyment from scenery projects, so 2013 was no different from previous years in adding to my terrain.
The above-mentioned samurai project led me into some interesting scenery building, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The end result was well received on the Internet when I posted pictures of my archetypal Japanese terrain.
Gaming was (as usual for me) very sparse during 2013. In June I did put on a very well-received pirate game table at the Kapiti Wargames Club’s open day. But you could hardly call this a game, because it was a static display. Still, it was very enjoyable to put together, and I got some great comments about it.
One of the biggest hogs of my wargaming budget is buying books. And 2013 was no different for me in this regard than any other year. I bought quite a stack of books through the year, both new and second-hand.
Henry Hyde’s The Wargaming Compendium was a must-buy on my list as soon as I heard about it. Although it is perhaps aimed at a newer wargamer than myself, it is delightfully written, and I’m pleased to own it as a piece of the wargaming history I am sure it will become.
Ronin was another definite purchase on my list, as I imagine that if I ever get to play a samurai game, these are the most likely rules I’ll end up using.
One of my most eagerly awaited book buys of the year was Osprey’s The New Zealand Wars 1820-72. And it didn’t disappoint, either. it was fabulous seeing the paintings of uniforms that to me are so familiar, yet so seldom seen in international publications.
Finally, I was delighted to hear that an old colleague of mine had written a historical novel that was doing very well on the international market. Ken Brewer’s The Enfield Conspiracy introduces his military/police character, whom Ken plans to feature in a series of novels set during the colonial period in New Zealand.
The absolute highlight for my year was our five-week family trip to the UK and Europe.
This trip provided an opportunity for me to attend my first-ever big wargames show – SELWG in London. I was like a toddler in a toyshop, eyes agog at all the marvels on display.
In Paris, I made the obligatory pilgrimage to Les Invalides to see the Musée de l’Armée and Napoleon’s tomb. What an amazing experience to actually see in real life some of those Napoleonic uniforms I’ve painted in miniature over the years.
My favourite find during my trip was a diorama in the Portsmouth Dockyard Museum depicting a naval cutting-out expedition somewhere in Spain during the Napoleonic Wars. I’d always loved this diorama since seeing a tiny picture of it in a book on the sailing navy, and so was pleasantly surprised to stumble over it by chance during a visit to the dockyard to see HMS Victory.
I also reposted an article from my mate Brian’s Woolshed Wargamer blog about a medal that a much earlier ancestor of mine would have been eligible for as a result of his service as a dragoon trumpeter in Napoleon’s army.
My blog is usually anything but controversial. However, I did stir up a (rather minor) hornets’ nest in June when I wrote a posting entitled Is the historian’s craft to pursue the truth?
So, that’s been my wargaming year. I hope you’ve enjoyed this look back at some of my highlights. I look forward to seeing similar lists of highlights in some of your blogs over the next couple of days. And I hope that 2014 has a lot more hobby goodness in store for you and me!
Ngā mihi o te Tau Hou ki a koutou katoa! I wish you all a happy new year, everybody!