Pirate raid in Kapiti


Today I put on a pirate display at the Kapiti Wargames Club’s open day.  I say ‘display’, because it wasn’t a game as such, but just an excuse to lay out as much of my piratical terrain and figures as I could, in a static display piece.  

I guess I could’ve just as easily played a game on the terrain, but I was too lazy to do so.  Anyway, I just wanted to enjoy talking to the club members and any other spectators, and convincing people that good terrain needn’t be too complicated. 

The display was very much ‘Hollywood’ rather than ‘History’, with various anachronisms evident (eg a Napoleonic landing party in a Golden Age of Piracy game from a totally different century), and some definite confusion in architectural styles (ranging from a Spanish Main village to an American colonial boat-house and church).  

I took a pile of pictures, so here they are for your enjoyment.  They’re all quite large photos, so that you an click on them to get the full-size effect.

IMG_lg_1941An island, somewhere in the Spanish Main.  The terrain is a bunched up felt gaming cloth arranged over a commercial sea terrain mat, with some judicious use of real rocks and sand.  Simple, but eye-catching.

IMG_lg_1964Teddy-bear fur provided some fields of wheat.  Does wheat grow in the Caribbean?  Who cares? … this is Hollywoood, remember!

IMG_lg_1963This was a great excuse to drag out my home-made Napoleonic Peninsular War village, and the Perry civilians for that period.

IMG_lg_1962My Royal Navy longboat rows past a Dutch merchantman to battle the pirate invasion.

IMG_lg_1960The Renadra dilapidated barn kitset made a perfect boat-shed, just by adding some ladders and broken fences as ramps.

IMG_lg_1959To any small kids who viewed the table (and there were quite a few), I gave the mission of finding the pirate treasure.  Looking carefully, they would soon spot this cave …

IMG_lg_1958Outside the town the local garrison are on parade in front of the town worthies … little knowing that a pirate raid is eventuating beneath their very noses.

IMG_lg_1957The Dutch merchantman has now been overtaken by the navy boat as it heads round the point to engage the pirates.

IMG_lg_1955And whilst the pirates attack one side of the island, smugglers are busy on the other coast, moving their contraband inland on a convoy of wagons.

IMG_lg_1953The peaceful churchyard – one of two religious institutions on the island.

IMG_lg_1952And meanwhile the garrison continues its preening and parading in front of the ladies …

IMG_lg_1951… and the ladies continue their preening in front of the handsome officers.

IMG_lg_1950But some soldiers are hard at work at the fort on the point, firing the first shots at the pirate fleet.  The fort is a simple plastic toy I bought at a bring-and-buy.

IMG_lg_1949Some of the pirates have landed, disturbing a trio of young ladies who have been picnicking on the beach under the twirling sails of the (Grand Manner) windmill.

IMG_lg_1948The pirate fleet – including a scratch-built brig by my friend Scott, and my own converted Disney ‘Black Pearl’.

IMG_lg_1945If you look carefully, you’ll see a man praying at his father’s grave in the country churchyard.

IMG_lg_1944Another look at that fat Dutch merchantman – the fat ship, not the fat merchant!  This ship was originally a plastic toy in a boxed game, though it has been given a heavy makeover.

IMG_lg_1943Meanwhile the smugglers are making their way over the bridge and up to the village to dispose of their contraband.  The river, road and bridge are by Australian company Miniature World Makers.

IMG_lg_1940Here’s another look at those pirates landing on the beach, almost under the guns of the fort.

IMG_lg_1939The pirates’ flagship waits off-shore, ignoring the puny gun in the small fort on the point.

IMG_lg_1938One of the the lookouts in the fort tower is blowing the alarum trumpet.

IMG_lg_1937It’s a good thing this is Hollywood rather than History, otherwise that skeleton pirate would be right out of place.

IMG_lg_1936The table attracted a lot of interest right through the day, despite it being a static display.  The longboat is a terrific model by Britannia Miniatures.

IMG_lg_1935Here’s that boat-shed again.  You can also see how a sprinkling of real sand makes an effective touch.

IMG_lg_1934Life goes on in the the higgledy-piggledy village on the hill.

IMG_lg_1933Oh dear, they’re STILL parading.  Haven’t they heard the alarum yet?

IMG_lg_1932Nope, I guess not.

IMG_lg_1947Here’s a couple of the other games we put on … Scott and Paul did a great Flames of War game, with plenty of action.  They even had the screaming sound effect whenever the Stuka made an appearance.

IMG_lg_1946Stephen and Steve put on a lovely 15mm Seven Years War game.

Truchseß dragoons join the Barryat of Lyndonia

“The dragoons will advance!”  The latest regiment to join my 18th century imagi-nation, the Barryat of Lyndonia, are these dragoons based on the real-life Prussian Truchseß dragoon regiment.  Click on the above picture to get the full effect.

The Barryat of Lyndonia is based on the movie Barry Lyndon, of course.  This new regiment is the first unit in the Lyndonian army that veers away from the movie, though.  I’ve mentioned in a previous posting the unscientific method I used when I chose to replicate the pink and light-blue uniform colours of the Truchseß dragoons:

Because when I met my wife back in the 80s, pink and light-blue were the ‘in’ colours – she not only wore (very attractively, I might add) pink and light-blue eye-shadow, but we painted our first house together with pink and light-blue trim.  Despite being well out of fashion now, I still have a fondness of that colour combination, so how could I resist a unit dressed in light-blue uniforms with pink facings?!

The regiment currently is made up of 24 figures –  two officers, one drummer and one standard bear (all based singly) and two squadrons of 10 troopers (based in pairs).  I plan to add a couple more troopers to each squadron, as I’m finding 10 an unsatifying number for arranging my regiment in symmetrical formations!  Note that I don’t organise my regiments  in any historical way – they are merely for playing fun wargames, not simulating history.

And before anyone asks, I don’t base to suit any particular set of rules.  Any rules I will use have to be able to cope with my basing, not the other way round!

The figures are all 28mm Minden Miniatures (the most exquisite 18th century figures around, in my opinion).  The standard is merely printed out from a lovely picture on the Kronosaf website.

The horses were under-coated with rust-coloured car primer, then rubbed with burnt umber or black oil paint.  This oil paint used to belong to my Dad, who passed away in 1984, so it imbues my figures with a touch of personal memories, and also shows you how long oil paint lasts!   Oh, and I had some expert help on painting horses, who is  seen inspecting the results in the picture below.

All the above photos were taken on my mobile phone, as our digital camera is presently on holiday in the United Kingdom with my wife and daughter.  While the picture quality isn’t as clear as with a camera, the photos have turned out adequate enough.

A haughty general officer of the Barryat of Lyndonia

Here’s a haughty general officer of the Barryat of Lyndonia, wearing the uniform of the Truchseß Dragoons (Minden Miniatures, 28mm).

This is a sneak preview of a project  I’ve been boxing along with in the background of my other painting over the last few months.  He is the first completed figure of a new fictitious unit for the army of the Barryat of Lyndonia, my 18th century  imagi-nation based on the movie Barry Lyndon.

As I’ve now completed infantry units based on all three British, Prussian and French infantry regiments that feature strongly in the movie, I’ve now turned my hand to cavalry.  While there are a few Prussian cavalrymen in the movie, they are basically in infantry uniforms with attached plumes, and don’t do anything for me.  So I decided to do a completely new unit, not from the movie at all.

I chose to loosely base my first cavalry unit for the Barryat of Lyndonia on the real-life Prussian Truchseß regiment of dragoons.  Why?  Because when I met my wife back in the 80s, pink and light-blue were the ‘in’ colours – she not only wore (very attractively, I might add) pink and light-blue eye-shadow, but we painted our first house together with pink and light-blue trim.  Despite being well out of fashion now, I still have a fondness of that colour combination, so how could I resist a unit dressed in light-blue uniforms with pink facings?!

As this figure was originally a Minden Hanovarian officer, and not a Prussian at all, he is wearing his sash incorrectly across his shoulder for a Prussian (who wore them around the waist).  Even though with an imagi-nation army I’m not bound by accuracy, I decided to paint the sash as a military decoration ribbon instead – the orange ribbon of the Order of the Black Eagle.  With such an important decoration, he has been duly promoted to a general officer.

My Truchseß Dragoons will eventually have 24 figures, divided into two squadrons of 12.

Oh, by the way, the photos were taken on my phone.  While not as crisp and clear as a camera, they are certainly quite adequate enough for blog pictures, don’t you think?  The background is our front paddock, on the last day of an absolutely beautiful Easter weekend here in Paraparaumu.

In police hands – my miniatures under arrest!

Displaying your miniatures in a police museum might seem an odd venue, but that is what happened to me recently when I was asked to take part in a police hobbies exhibition at the New Zealand Police Museum.

While I do actually have quite a large collection of police badges and miniature police vehicles (maybe the subject of another posting sometime, if anyone is interested), the event was intended to also show off other hobbies enjoyed by police staff.  So I was asked to exhibit my model soldiers.

I decided my display would be based on the adage that “few is more”.  Rather than ladening down a table with huge amounts of figures, I would put out only a few units to give give a taster of several different periods.  This also helped with transport and setting up, as I only had a very limited time.

But I wish I had pulled that tablecloth straight!

The main part of my display featured my New Zealand Wars collection, made up of the wonderful 28mm Empress Miniatures figures.

This was quite an appropriate period for the police setting, as the history of the New Zealand Police is inextricably entwined with those wars.  The particular part of the wars that my miniatures portray is a decade or two earlier than when the Armed Constabulary (forerunners of our modern police) came on the scene.  But it was a talking point for the audience, nevertheless.

I also displayed one of my 18th century battalions of Minden figures, painted as a British regiment from the movie Barry Lyndon.  This showed how impressive a large unit of figures could look.

In the background I set up one of my painting resources (in this case Mollo and McGregor’s Uniforms of the Seven Years War 1756-63). Many of the audience were very interested to see how detailed the research for our hobby could be … and laughed when I told them that I had painted my models to  faithfully replicate the inaccuracies from the movie!

The final exhibit was my entire American Civil War collection.  This is a period I’ve half-started, as you can see, but never really got anywhere with.  But those colourful zouaves certainly were show-stoppers at the display.  These, and the Confederates facing them, were all Redoubt figures.   Again, a colourful book in the background added interest.

Overall, it was great to be able to show off my figures to an audience who were more interested in them than most.  It was a evening function for the Friends of the Police Museum organisation, so everyone there had a natural inclination towards history anyway.

Oh, and one other thing.  Browsing through the Police Museum itself, I came across a picture of my much younger self.  What a creepy 1980s police-issue moustache, aye?!

“Barry Lyndon” Prussian big battalion finally complete!

At last, 60-plus figures all painted and based into one impressive big battalion.  My photo came out nice, too, in my humble opinion!  It is quite a long picture, so click on it to see the full effect of the large battalion in all its glory.  Shame the officer carrying the white flag toppled over without me noticing whilst I was taking the photo.

Anyway, this afternoon I attached the final piece of flock to the last figure in my 28mm Minden Miniatures Prussian battalion. It’s taken me a year to paint just this one unit, but I’ve finally got there!

This battalion of 28mm figures is based on the Prussians in the movie Barry Lyndon. So I’ve copied the inaccuracies in the movie. You’ll see the wrong colour turnbacks, the incorrect colour straps and the mis-matched flags, all faithfully recreated!

Photo with the three flags.

The movie doesn’t name the regiment, but in the book it is called the ‘Bulow’ Regiment. The orange, black and white flags carried in the movie are from different real-life regiments, but for my purposes, they will be the flags of the imaginary Kubrick Regiment, which is fighting for my “imagi-nation”, the Barrayat of Lyndonia.  The flags are the usual exquisite GMB Design products, by the way.

My unit organisation and basing are not designed for any particular set of wargames rules, but are purely the way I like them for aesthetic reasons.  Historical accuracy, historical schmaccuracy, for imagi-nation or movie-based armies!!! 

The Kubrik Regiment now joins my other two Barryat of Lyndonia big battalions:

– Gale’s Regiment of Foot:

– Régiment de Royal-Cravates:

– Kubrick Regiment

Maurice is coming!

Maurice is a delightful combination of tabletop miniatures rules for historical and fictional battles, a limitless campaign system that requires virtually no math or paperwork, and a role-playing game in which the “characters” are officers, units, and armies, whose personalities you create, and whose fates you manage from battle to battle across wars and decades.

This 18th century ruleset by Sam Mustafa looks intriguing, and not just because of the unusual name.  The card-driven game mechanism looks fun and challenging at the same time. The possibilities for ‘imagi-nations’ look particularly interesting.

And, finally, an eighteenth-century publication that highlights (in its title and in its evident format) the flamboyantly rococo French of the period, rather than Frederick and his Prussians!

You can download the flyer (which includes information about the game-play system, as well as some sample card graphics) here:


My 18th century French march again

Looks like my old 28mm eighteenth century French will get an outing again soon. This was the first historical wargames army I painted when I returned to the hobby after a 20+ year break about a decade ago. For the last few years the army has sat in my display cabinet gathering dust, while other projects have come and gone in its place.

But it looks like this year the wee chaps – er, ‘petit garçons’ – will come out of hibernation to fight at FreddyCon, the Hutt Valley Wargaming Club’s annual Seven Years War convention. FreddyCon is to be held at the St Brendan’s Hall in Upper Hutt (near Wellington, New Zealand) on 8-9 October, and will be based around the Die Kreigskunst and Black Powder rulesets for 28mm figures.

Black Powder is, of course, right up my alley.  So FreddyCon will be a great opportunity to test its recent 18th century supplement, The Last Argument of Kings.  

If it all comes off, my gaming buddy, Scott, will join me in dual command of ‘les sujets du bien-aimé Louis XV’, because his own eighteenth century army based on Wargames Factory’s War of the Spanish Succession plastics is not off the painting starting blocks yet. 

Talking about my old French army made me re-visit the website I put togerther back in the early 2000s when I was painting these figures.  I hadn’t been back to the site in quite a while, so it was a nostalgic trip back into my first flush of enthusiasm for this period.  The site’s pics still show the jewel-like characteurish charm of the Front Rank figures that first captivated me back into the hobby.

However, time has taken its toll in some ways.  I now realise that my painting style, of which I was so proud back then, was rather crude, with simple block colours, big googly eyes and messy detail.  My visitors at the time must have shook their heads with disbelief at what I was trying to show off!  Still, everyone has to start somewhere!

It was also one of my earliest efforts at website design using DreamWeaver.  Overall, it still doesn’t look too bad, though the much larger  modern screen sizes do make the text look quite narrow and the background repeat. 

If you also want to re-visit the old My French Army website, click on the screenshot below:  

Click here to visit the 'My French Army' website

My Minden Miniatures finally based

Well, here they are, hot off the press … er, painting board,  my Minden Miniatures French and British regiments, and finally based on their Litko bases.  These figures are the first two regiments for my imagi-nation project, the Barryat of Lyndonia, painted up as per the movie ‘Barry Lyndon’. 

If you click on the photos, you’ll get nice big versions where you can easily see all the blemishes in my impressionistic painting style!

Oh, by the way, these photos are quite roughly set up, basically just as I finished flocking each base.  So some things may be in wrong positions – grenadiers, flags, officers etc … but the pics give the general idea.

[above] Gale’s Regiment of Foot marches into a skirmish against a rearguard of Frenchmen who occupy an orchard beside a road down which the English main force wish to pass.  

[above]  The French Régiment de Royal-Cravates counterattacks.

[above] A closer view of the Régiment de Royal-Cravates counterattacks.

[above]  This is what big wargames units look like!  Sixty-plus figures, including lots of separate officers, NCOs, drummers and so on.  The exquisite flags are by GMB Design.

[above] And here’s the same view from the French side.

Ta-dah! First Minden French company painted

Barry Lyndon French Regiment

One third of my battalion of Minden Miniatures French is now completed, and held its first parade today.  This battalion is not based on any real historical unit, but on the French regiment depicted in the Stanley Kubrick movie Barry Lyndon.

Barry Lyndon French Regiment with Minden MiniaturesHere are all the French figures I’ve painted so far (click on the photos for a closer view):

  • Three drummers in French royal livery – one drummer will be assigned to each of the three companies I plan to have in the battalion.
  • Eighteeen fusiliers/grenadiers – each of the three companies will have eighteen rank and file figures.  One company will be made up of grenadiers, the others of fusiliers.
  • Three officers and NCOs – in this case, a company officer, a standard bearer carrying the Flandres flag as depicted in the movie, and a sergeant (seen to the right of the fusiliers).
  • A battalion gun manned by four infantrymen.

As you can see from this still from Barry Lyndon, the French have red facings, whereas in real-life the Regiment de Flandres had blue facings.  The facings are bit pinker in the movie than how I have painted them, but as I am not a stickler for accuracy, and as I had Foundry’s standard three-step  red paint on hand, I was happy enough with the colour.

I’ll be basing the eighteen rank-and-file men in each company on three 45mm-wide bases, each containing six men in two ranks of three (thus each man having a frontage of 15mm).  I’ll put the drummers, officers, standard-bearers and NCOs on individual bases.  This basing system will provide flexibility to split the battalion up  for varying rules, but will allow me to display the figures in large formations like those depicted in the iconic wargaming book Charge! or how to play wargames.

Barry Lyndon French Regiment There’s something simple and unfussy about French coats with no turn-backs.  I also like the way Minden have equipped these men with linen packs and the archetypical large leather-covered cartridge boxes.

My method for painting the white uniforms is rather simple and impressionistic, but has worked pretty well, I think. The trick is to do the white before anything else.
  1. Using black undercoated figures, block paint all the white uniform areas in Foundry’s arctic grey (or a similar light warm grey colour) and let dry.
  2. Dry brush the entire figure with white paint.
  3. Paint the highlights of folds with white paint.
  4. Now carry on and paint the rest of the figure, using GW devlan mud wash where necessary to re-define the edges of any areas that have been lost in the white dry-brush.

Barry Lyndon French Regiment battalion gunI’ve given the unit a battalion gun.  As such guns were manned by men assigned from the regiment, they wear the standard white infantry coats rather than the blue and red French artillery uniforms.  The gun is actually a small Napoleonic cannon by Minifigs.  But with a lick of red paint, it vaguely resembles the little Swedish-style cannons used as battalion guns during the period.

Here’s an action shot of the brief scene in Barry Lyndon in which a battalion gun is featured.

My previously painted British battalion waits eagerly for their opponents to be finished!  With each battalion having more than sixty figures, building this army is going to be a very slow process.  In fact, I’m relying on a fellow gamer who is collecting similarly based Minden figures if I’m ever going to get a game with them.

A parting shot of my first company of French on parade. I’m particularly pleased at how the faces turned out … and they weren’t too difficult to paint at all:

  1. Cover the whole face with light flesh paint, and let dry.
  2. Cover the whole face with GW sepia wash.
  3. Pick out the forehead, nose, cheeks, chin and ears with the light flesh paint.
  4. Put a dab of GW devlan mud wash into the eye sockets and inbetween the lips.
  5. Add a tiny amount of GW black wash into the sculpted eyes.

My Minden British all painted at last

As you do when you’ve just finished painting a new unit, I recently put my newly-completed (but not yet based) Minden Miniatures Seven Years War British troops onto their first parade as soon as the last lick of varnish was dry. 

A slightly overcast day produced perfect lighting conditions, resulting in a portfolio of photos I’m quite proud of.  But a gentle breeze did play havoc with the dressing of the lines, being specially fond of blowing over the standard bearers with a follow-on domino effect through the first company.  So the carefully aligned formations in these photos had to be painstakingly redone between each shot! 

Minden Miniatures
The mounted colonel watches as his battalion marches past, grenadiers at the fore.

As you can see, the basing is not yet done.  And I have not completely firmed up my ideas on how to do it, either.  I’m not going to base for any particular ruleset – at the speed I am painting these large units (three months for this one) I suspect that by the time I have assembled a whole army, the rules that they’ll  be used for are probably not even written yet!

The number of figures and the organisation are loosely based on the old wargames rulebook Charge! Or How to Play Wargames.  But those rules pre-date the concept of basing entirely, using individual figures that must’ve been an absolute pain to move round the battlefield.  

I am inclined towards having eight figure bases made up of  two ranks of four.  This would make two bases per company.  The officers, NCOs, drummers and standard bearers would all be on individual bases so I could position them around the battalion depending on its formation. 

However, to throw the cat into the bag, I’ve now also started thinking about having each company based in single, rather than double lines.   So a company in line would then be 16 figures long, plus supernumeries.  And the whole battalion would be a massive 48 rank-and-file figures long.   These days one is more accustomed to seeing miniatures in double lines, but I think that having two ranks represent three or four real ranks is no more realistic than representing the whole company frontage with a dozen or so figures. 

Anyway, I haven’t come to a decision yet.  So who knows what will happen.

Minden Miniatures
Sergeants on the left keep each of the three company lines aligned.

Overall, I have found the Minden Miniatures figures a very paintable range.  The sculpting is very crisp, and the detail is easy to pick out.  The figures respond particularly well to detailing with GW paint washes.  And of course such fine troops deserve the best of flags, and nothing beats GMB Design for these.

Minden Miniatures
The battalion consists of three companies, one of grenadiers, the other two of fusiliers.