Excuses, excuses, excuses! Why my wargaming has lagged

The last couple of months have seen little wargaming activity in the ‘Dressing The Lines’ household (though not absolutely none at all, as you’ll see further down in this posting). This despite the fact that I retired from my career late last year, so one would’ve thought I’d have more time to spend on the hobby.

There are several reasons for this pause, which I’ll explain here.

The first reason is that I have taken up a new hobby to sit alongside my wargaming: painting. Not painting miniatures, but pictures. I’ve already posted previously about my first efforts.

My latest work (which you can see above) depicts a church on the island of Santorini. This is intended as a wedding present for my daughter, who got engaged on Santorini just before COVID.

Another picture I completed in January is of the town of Riomaggiore in the Cinque Terre district of Italy. My wife and had four wonderful days in that tiny yellow pension (‘Scorci di Mare’) during our last trip to Europe.

I really want to build my skill in painting water, so was trying something quite challenging with this picture, namely semi-transparent water. The seaweed-covered parts of rocks on the right are supposed to be under the water.

Now, before you get too excited, the above picture isn’t one of mine. But it’s what I aspire to. The reason for my earlier comment about learning how to paint water is that I would love to take up the art of marine painting.

I’m inspired by works such as this one showing Captain Cook’s famous barque ‘Endeavour’ being greeted by several Maori waka (canoes) in Mercury Bay, New Zealand.

I saw the inspirational ‘Endeavour’ painting on a plaque marking exactly where Cook landed in 1769 to observe the Transit of Mercury. This spot was just down the beach from the house where we spent our recent two-week holiday.

And now that I have brought up our holiday, this was the second reason for not much recent wargaming action. I mean, really, how could wargaming compete with spending an idyllic two weeks with my lovely wife in Mercury Bay, one of the most beautiful parts of the world?

Sand, sea, sky, uncrowded beaches – mmm. This is my favourite of the beaches we visited: Hahei, in Mercury Bay on the Coromandel peninsula. Click on the picture to enlarge, and you’ll almost feel you’re there!

Actually, we fitted in two holiday trips last month, as we also spent a couple of days in the central North Island. The highlight was a bike ride that included cycling across this spectacular decommissioned railway viaduct. Again, this adventurous activity hindered my wargaming!

Now, this pic is a blast from the past! This is me back in 1986, when I helped develop the New Zealand Police Museum. I was responsible for this display of worldwide police paraphernalia.

So why this photo? Well, since I retired from the police at Christmas, I have decided to volunteer at the museum, where I spend one day a week cataloguing their huge collection. Another chunk out of wargaming hobby time!

For those of you who want a closer look, here is the display. Sorry the picture is a bit blurry, but this was before digital cameras, so this is actually a digital photo of a paper photo.

And now for the ‘piece de resistance’ for why my wargaming hobby time is depleted. Last week I managed to break my ankle!

I have to keep the leg elevated at the moment, so it is too awkward to sit and paint. Though I hope once I get used to the cast that I may be able take up my paint brush again – for both seascape paintings and gaming miniatures!

And I do actually have some figures undercoated and ready to go once I myself am also feeling ready.

Firstly, these are some 28mm eighteenth century civilians from Russian sculptor Ratnik Miniatures. They’re splendid models which should be fun to paint. I am particularly looking forward to doing the sedan chair, and then somehow including it in my fictional ‘imagi’-nation, the Barryat of Lyndonia.

My other awaiting project is to paint a few 40mm figures I bought recently on a whim. Here’s a bunch of British grenadiers.

They’re from a New Zealand supplier, Triguard Miniatures, so I feel I am doing my patriotic duty to support them. I don’t know if I will ever actually game with these large figures, but they will look gorgeous in my display case.

I couldn’t resist a group of their Gardes Francaises too, one of my favourite-ever uniforms.

So, lots happening, but not too much of it has been wargaming-related. But hopefully as I settle into my retirement (and my leg cast!), I will gradually get more organised with my various pursuits.

Police cars and uniforms

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Before I got back into my old childhood hobby of wargaming in the later 1990s, my hobby was collecting model police cars and various bits of police paraphernalia from around the world. I built up quite a large collection, which up till recently was kept in a dark corner of the Wellington Central Police Station (where I haven’t been since 2005).

Recently I was contacted by the manager of Wellington Central, who told me that they were going to renovate the floor where the display cases were situated. “Oh no,” I thought, “here it comes – they want me to take my stuff away, and I don’t know what I’ll do with it all!”  But, no, instead he told me they were going to move the display into a much more prominent position in front of the lifts that lead to the cafeteria.

I popped into Central today to take a look at what they have done. I was delighted! So I just had to take some photos, even though all I had with me was my rather ancient phone camera. Here are the pics I took, in case any of you are interested in seeing this collection. There are even a few items that could possibly be used in a modern wargaming setting!

And, oh how I would love to own those display cases for my wargaming armies!  But although the collection is mine, the cases belong to the Police.

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Display case 1

Top shelf: France, Spain.  Second shelf: Netherlands.  Third shelf: old Eastern Bloc.  Fourth shelf: Switzerland, Austria and Japan.

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Below: A couple of 1/24th scale models of Dutch police vehicles.  The Mercedes traffic car is a standard kitset, but the Shorland armoured car I converted from a Landrover kit.

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Below: A 1/43rd  scale die-cast French riot van reflected in a shiny French riot helmet. 

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Display case 2

Top shelf: United Kingdom.  Second shelf: New Zealand.  Third shelf: Germany.  Fourth shelf: police shoulder patches from various Asian and Middle East nations.

Below: The blue and white helmets on the second shelf were the ones I used to wear many years ago as a young constable on the beat.

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Below: German police vehicles in a range of scales from 1/18th (the cute BMW Isetta) to 1/87th (the water cannon).  The hat is a 1950s German police shako.  

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Display case 3

Top shelf: Luxembourg, UN and Belgium.  Second shelf: USA.  Third shelf: more USA.  Fourth shelf: police shoulder patches from various Pacific nations.

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Below: A 1/25th scale New York City patrol car, a lovely plastic kitset.

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Display case 4

Top shelf: Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Australia and Tonga.  Second shelf: Italy and Hong Kong.  Third shelf: Scandanavia.  Fourth shelf: Greece, Canada, South Africa, Northern Ireland and Portugal.

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Below: A South African Police Landrover. This started life as a 1/43rd die-cast pick-up truck, but I added the cage in the back. Not a very PC model, I know …

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Display case 5

This is a bit different from the others, as it isn’t part of my personal collection.  These items were brought back by my colleagues who worked in Thailand doing disaster victim identification  after the Boxing Day tsunami.

Oh, and that of course is me reflected in the glass!

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Settlers, samurai, a standard and a Shorland

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It’s been fairly quiet on the gaming front at the moment, but not entirely without some output.  I’m working on some Empress Miniatures figures from their colonial New Zealand Wars range, including these four colonists defending their homestead, and the three gunners to man a Maori cannon.

I also have the last banner-man for my Kingsford Miniatures Japanese samurai to find a suitable flag design for.  Something nondescript, as he is not really required for either of my samurai clan armies, so will be just a decorative figure.

The Napoleonic British standard bearer in the background is a Warlord figure that came with a set of Black Powder rules.  He comes with a cast-on flag, which (like the samurai flag) has been quite a challenge to paint, because I’m more used to GMB Design’s exquisite printed paper flags.

Finally, I recently dug out a miniature resin model of a Dutch police Shorland armoured car, which I made a decade or so ago in my previous hobby of collecting model police vehicles (before I became a wargamer). From memory, the manufacturer was called something like Transports of Delight.  I can’t see any particular gaming purpose for this model, but I just  love the shape of the Shorland, based as it was on the common-or-garden Landrover.

Police hats of the world

Many years ago I used to collect police hats of the world. One of my mates was a police photographer, and put together this collage of me wearing some of the hats in my collection.  I recently came across this photo again whilst looking through my box of my old police bits and bobs.

Besides showing you how handsome I used to be with my standard-issue 1980s police moustache, I thought this picture would give an idea of some of the wide variety of police headgear styles in the world.

I think by the time I stopped collecting police hats, I had about 50 of them.  Most are still in a display cabinet in the Wellington Central Police Station, where I left them when I retired  from the police in 2005.

Seeing this photo for the first time in years has made me think I might rescue a few of the more interesting hats from the display case and put them in my study here at home.

And finding this photo provides the opportunity for a quiz for my readers. Using the numbered photo below, who can tell which country each hat comes from?  Click on the photo for a closer look. Note that some countries are represented more than once.

More German polizei oldtimers from the interwar years

I promised in my last post about odd German polizei vehicles to post a few more pics.  The first one here is of a circa 1920 Daimler DZR armoured car.   If you look carefully (click on the photo for more detail) you can make out the wording ‘Sicherheitspolizei Hamburg’ (Hamburg Security Police) on the rear.   I love those big solid-looking wheels.

Here’s another shot of the Daimler DZR in Hamburg.  Both the above pics come from Jochen Breitenbach’s Polizei-Sonderwagen geschichte und einsatz.

I really like this picture of a Baden polizei contingent on the move in the Black Forest.   At the front is a Benz/21 armoured car.  The police officers riding in the large charabancs must be having some concerns negotiating those hairpin bends with the steep drop-off!

Now for something a bit different.  How many police officers can you get on one motorcycle combination?  Well, the crew of this 1927 Prussian State police motorcycle is five.  This and the photo above it both come from Die Kraftfahrzeuge der Polizei und des Bundesgrenzschutzes by Werner Oswald.

OK, I know, this isn’t interwar. But how could I resist finishing with this big police officer and his tiny BMW Isetta patrol car in Rheinland-Pfalz about 1960?

Odd interwar German polizei vehicles

When you called the police in Germany between the wars, boy, did you get police!   Imagine one of these beauties pulling up outside to take a report of your milk bottles being nicked!  This is a 1928 Magirus MM transporter (click on the picture to see it in greater detail).

I pity the officers travelling in the trailer of this 1926 MAN transporter – it must’ve been a bumpy ride.

These would be terrific units in an interwar game, if any miniature company ever made anything like them.   Or even in a Very British Civil War game, as a German polizei unit brought over to help their British police colleagues.

Note how the shakos worn by the officers are very similar to those worn by jaegers during the Franco-Prussian and Great Wars.   These distinctive hats were worn by German police during WW2, and right up to the 1960s.

I’ve got a few old books I’ve got about the German police vehicles.  The book these particular pics came from is called Polizei-Fahrzeuge gestern und heute by Klaus-Fr Doenecke and Dirk Lemcke.

There are a few more oddities portrayed in these books.   Lovers of old armoured cars and motorcycle combinations may be especially interested in them.