Saturday, September 16, 2023

Lost Ranges...

Years ago, I stumbled across the old Mikes Models renaissance range that was ultimately purchased by Essex. At the time, Essex no longer made the miniatures and I read at the time that the molds were destroyed as they introduced their own figures to replace them (this turned out not to be true). Because of their scarcity, I joined groups, made purchases and conducted swaps with people across the globe to get enough figures to make my armies. Years later, Essex announced that they would make the figures available again.

I never needed to order from Essex because I had spent a small fortune collecting my figures second-hand. I painted some up many, many years ago and here are those photos:

Some French Huguenot millers looking rather spiffy in their white smocks...

A flamboyant landsknecht pike block.

Have gun, will travel...German mercenary reiters ready to caracole.

I planned to paint up armies to refight the French Wars of Religion. I never completed them, I think what did me in was the spaghetti lances of the gendarmes. I decided to replace them with hand-crafted lances and that became a pain. Perhaps one day I will revisit this project, until that day comes the lead will sit in a rather heavy and battered shoebox under my paint table.

After my last post in which I mentioned Josef Ochmann's 10mm Conquistador range, I started thinking about other ranges that I loved that also disappeared from the world. Wargames Foundry's 15mm War of the Roses and Burgundian range sculpted by the Perry Brothers was one of them. I  picked up off of Barter Town when I was planning to do an Italian renaissance project in 15mm and rather stupidly sold them off. MinisMyWay has a rather interesting video on the range here. I heard that these molds were also destroyed, but who knows if that is true. 

Ironically enough, I had planned to pair the 15mm Perry sculpts with another range that has since disappeared, Peter Pig's Italian Wars range. I still remember how beautiful the crossbowmen sculpts were as well as the soldiers behaving rudely pack (one fellow mooning his backside and another flipping the bird). Peter Pig sold the range to a company called Moon Beam who then sold them to Black Cat Bases who appears to have gone out of business. Poof, gone.

Cannon Fodder Miniatures out of Australia produced a beautiful 25mm Mexican American War range, I had plenty of those figures but sadly painted them off. Anyone remember Wild Geese Miniatures and their 10mm ranges? I always wanted to buy them but never did. I own a bunch of 15/18mm South American Wars of Liberation figures from Grenadier Production's Liberators range. These were beautiful figures sculpted by Mike Broadbent. As I recall, the owner of the range was in the music business and the miniature range was a labor of love. To go along with the miniatures there were some beautiful wargaming guides. There were plans to release figures and wargaming guides  for the Northern campaigns of Bolivar but sadly the range went defunct before that ever happened. Totentanz Miniatures was another company that came and went, they had some beautiful figures for the Carlist Wars in 18mm, I came close to ordering them but never did.

Some ranges disappear with the passing of the proprietor. I remember getting into wargaming the Greek Wars of Independence in 15mm when Spyros, the owner of Alphacast Miniatures passed away. His 15mm Balkans War and Greek Wars of Independence ranges disappeared. Luckily I was gifted some of his miniatures from a friend. My mind also goes to Cracker Line and Good Ground Miniatures owned and operated by Bill Moreno before his passing (a true loss to the wargaming community). 

With Magister Militum to close doors at the end of this month, one wonders what will happen to the various ranges in so many scales that they own. Perhaps some of these ranges will disappear as well...

Anyway, back to Obelisk's 10mm range...I believe Obelisk was owned by Ochmann the sculptor. Apparently he retired in 2014 and sold off the range to Badger Games but Badger didn't purchase the 10mm offerings of Obelisk. Another poof and gone.

As years pass, we get older and nostalgia becomes stronger; I imagine there will be more ranges that I will lament the absence of. In the interim, lets look at some pictures of those Obelisk 10mm figures and maybe I will dust off those Mikes Models renaissance figures one day....

Absolutely stunning sculpts, these fellows look like hard chargers...

It's hard for me to believe they were 10mm figures. So much character in the poses.

A little bit of missile weaponry to go along with all of the Spanish melee...

The Incans are mighty impressive too. The painter Anndrew Taylor did some amazing brushwork on the little buggers.

No idea how Andrew managed to paint squares that cleanly in 10mm on these Incan halberdiers. 

Some of the aforementioned Cannon Fodder sculpts, so much character in these figures.

A very unique looking Mexican officer with the brimmed hat and the pistol. I had these figures but unfortunately I sold all of them off.

One range I neglected to mention was Flytrap Production's 15mm Afghan range. I own a bunch of them but wish I had more. I think Flytrap is still around but these guys are no longer available.

Meso Americans for Irregular Wars

One of these days, I will have to go through my collection and photograph the miniatures that I have painted but haven't posted on my blog. As I was flipping through my phone, I saw some photos of my 15mm Aztecs that I painted up for Irregular Wars. 

Here we have some stands of suit-wearers and a command stand. Very vibrant colors. I used the old Wargames Foundry book by Ian Heath (Armies of the Aztecs and Inca I believe) as a guide for suit colors and shield designs.

Some yellow-clad Cuachic warriors.  Love the mohawks...I only played these guys a few times in games, I think the army was fairly effective but they needed to swarm mounted Conquistadors or catch them in bad terrain, otherwise the Spanish cavalry would carve them up. 

I can't remember who these guys are supposed to be (Otomi maybe?). Irregular Wars is really a brilliant set of rules. I have a few armies painted up (Aztecs, Eastern woodland Indians, early 17th century English adventurers, Spanish Conquistadors and Colonials, etc.). I have even more unpainted and I will really need to tackle these because the armies are fairly small (similar to DBA numbers) and Irregular Wars gives a real good game.

Some actively posed Warrior Priests. I should add that all of the figures are from the old Gladiator/Black Hat range sculpted by Josef Ochmann. I really like Ochmann's sculpting style. His range of Biblical armies are really beautiful as well. On a side note, Josef also sculpted a small 10mm Conquistador range for Obelisk Miniatures. There were some Conquistadors, Caribs, Incans and even Canari from what I can recall. Sadly they are yet another range that has slipped into the ether...

Allied Mixtec warriors with atl-atl dart launchers. Noticeably absent are the rank and file warriors. I know that I painted up a bunch but for whatever reason I didn't snap any photos of them. When I get back home, perhaps I will get some snaps in and post them.


Friday, September 15, 2023

A Hobby Purgatory of Sorts...

As I mentioned in a previous post, my employer decided it was a good time to send me down to Southeast Texas for the month of September. I didn't have much advance notice so I brought some wargaming rulesets, a few wargaming guides and my unpainted 10mm Crimean War lead. The plan was to read through some rules and prep the Crimean War figures (filing mold lines and trimming flash) so that I would have some semblance of hobby progress during my month long sojourn.

Since there will be no painting progress nor any wargaming eye candy photos of freshly painted miniatures, I decided to pull some photos from my phone camera and post what I was working on last.

Here we have some Magister Militum 10mm Crimean War Turks. My approach to painting these buggers was to prime them with GW Macragge Blue, ink and then drybrush with a lightened version of Macragge Blue before I painted the flesh, fez and other non-blue bitz. This photo was taken prior to me inking and basing them, which was done. I have plenty more Turks to paint up when I return.

Next up are some 10mm Viking Bondi, the sculpts are from Old Glory. These fellas were primed black, wetbrushed with a khaki color and then I proceeded to pick out various colors in assembly line fashion. Im' fairly pleased with them but they were a bit of a chore to paint, certainly more-so than most Old Glory strip figures. I should add that I am basing these for LittleWarsTV's RavenFeast big battle rules variant. I now have 10 stands of Bondi.

Finally, we have a very busy photo which was taken on my cluttered paint desk. In the foreground are some Old Glory 10mm Viking Hirdmen. There is a 3D printed damaged building behind them and then some of my Krapistan 15mm fighters and the aforementioned Viking Bondi.

My hope upon returning at the end of the month is to finish off the Krapistan project (which is to say get enough painted up for a proper game, I'm not sure if I ever truly "finish" projects. I always plan to add a few more units even if I never do). After that I'd like to continue tackling the RavenFeast project with the ultimate goal of painting up enough figures for the three scenarios of Fulford Gate, Stamford Bridge and Hastings. I'd also like to continue making progress with the Crimean War project.

Soon after arriving in Southeast Texas, I learned that Magister Militum is shutting down shop at the end of the month. Very sad news indeed. I have been ordering from them for many years and they have always provided tremendous service. I am a big fan of their 10mm sculpts (did I mention I love 10mm?), my WW1 armies, a good portion of my Dark Ages figures  and my Crimean War armies are all courtesy of Magister Militum.

In my downtime, when I'm not reading rules or prepping Crimean War figures, I have been slowly putting together my final order to Magister Militum. I will try to fill the gaps in various collections and I think I will order some Biblical armies so that I can field Middle Kingdom Egyptians, Hyksos, Libyans and Nubians. Hopefully, all of their new ranges find a good home so the miniatures aren't lost forever.


Friday, September 8, 2023

Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma Visits

At the end of August, I was notified by my employer that I'd be spending the month of September in McAllen, Texas. I didn't have much time to pack but I managed to bring some miniatures to prep for painting and some history/gaming books. 

If you follow this blog, you are aware that I have collected and painted the American and Mexican armies in 10mm for the battle of Palo Alto. The figures for these armies are exclusively from Bill Moreno's "So Far From God" range. The figures really are little gems and it's the only 10mm range for the Mexican American War (and a very comprehensive one at that).

I decided that I'd might make this work trip a bit more worthwhile and visit the battlefields of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma whenever I had a day off. As I researched my trip, my thoughts went back to Bill Moreno and his range of miniatures. I had known that earlier in the year he was dealing with an illness. Trying to learn how he was progressing, I was very saddened to learn of Bill's passing. I had also recently suffered the loss of someone very close to me; I decided that I would make the trip to Palo Alto in honor of Bill. I had only met him once but had communicated will him quite a bit via email every time I placed an order for miniatures (which was quite often). 

Okay, back to trip...after an uneventful drive across some incredibly flat lands between McAllen and Palo Alto, I arrived at the battlefield site. The visitor center was pretty small with a tiny gift shop and a few displays and exhibits.

Entrance to the National Park Service visitor center.

Uniforms of the opposing armies.

Some of the cannon balls and shot.

Small arms and swords.

A sample of the cordgrass that covers the battleground. The grass blades can be razor sharp.

An interesting discovery in the back of the Audio Visual room (where they play a 15 minute video covering the story behind the battles) was a display with some 15mm figures, a boardgame hex map of the battle and a copy of Buck Surdu's Santa Anna Rules! Buck's rules for the Mexican American War were the first set I picked up to game the war. I had previously started projects in 28mm and 15mm only to abandon them and settle on 10mm.
Buck Surdu's Santa Anna Rules in all of their glory!

Closeup of some of the 15mm figures, I couldn't make out the manufacturer...perhaps old Frontier, MiniFigs or Musket Miniatures?

More of the figures as well as some cavalry themed dioramas also in 15mm.

Closeup of the dioramas depicting what appear to be US dragoons, Mexican Line cavalry and some Rancheros.

I was really quite taken back by how inhospitable the lands were. Signs were in abundance warning visitors to stay on the pathways because of rattlesnakes, additionally the sharp blades of the cordgrass and prickly thorns of the shrubs were a danger as well.

On this September day, the sun was in full effect and the temperature was about 104. The battle was fought in May but I was also wearing breathable cotton and synthetics while the soldiers that marched into battle wore less forgiving attire.

I walked from the visitor center along the pathway to the Mexican lines and over to the partially covered overlook. As I walked the battlefield alone, my mind went to Bill and my departed wife. I hoped that both were there with me to see what I was seeing. As I thought of them, a cool breeze gave me some relief from the oppressive heat and I knew I was not alone which made me happy. I decided discretion was the better part of honor and opted not to walk to the further American lines. Instead I retreated back to air conditioning of the visitor's center where I purchased some souvenirs..

Before heading back to my hotel in McAllen, I decided to stop off at Resaca de la Palma which was about 5 miles south of Palo Alto. The National Park Service employee at Palo Alto forewarned me that there wasn't much left of the battlefield and there was no visitor center. When I arrived after a brief drive, I spent about 10 minutes there. I was impressed with the density of the chaparral that lined small bodies of water (which weren't really visible), after a few pictures I departed and returned to McAllen.

Dense chaparral located at the Resaca de la Palma battlefield site.

A cannon on display outside of the restrooms located at Resaca de la Palma.

I probably only spent a couple of hours at the two battlefield sites, I was glad I visited them. I'm not sure that I will ever be back here again and I have spent many hours collecting, painting and gaming with miniatures representing the two armies that fought on these lands almost 200 years ago. Walking those grounds filled my mind with gaming ideas to better represent the feel of the battle but it also filled my mind with thoughts of Bill and my wife. 


Friday, July 28, 2023

Historicon 2023

This past weekend, I managed to make it to Historicon 2023. A lot of life changing events had occurred between my last convention, Cold Wars 2023, and this convention. I was looking forward to the convention for the hobby aspects as well as to forge ahead with some new (and unfortunate) "normals" in life. My longtime friend Rob also attended which always ensures a good time.

Thursday night Rob and I got in a game of Bulldogs Away. I took command of a couple of Sa'ar missile boats and Rob had a small squadron composed of Osa fast attack craft and a T43 minesweeper. Although the Arab forces outnumbered the Israelis by two to one, it was quickly evident the Israeli boats were superior. Arab Styx missiles were launched without much success due to Israeli electronic countermeasures, chaff and flares. The Arab boats had no such defenses from the Gabriel II missiles that came back in reply.

We didn't have any photos of the game but we had a blast, we will definitely play Bulldogs Away.

Friday day, I watched Rob play a Man o' War game between the Dwarves and the Bretonnians. Alot of fun and it reminded me that I need to paint up my old fleets from Games Workshop. 

Friday night, we kept with the nautical theme and played a game of Form on the Admiral's Wake (FotAW). I have been going to HMGS cons for 20+ years and I have played games of FotAW in the majority of them. These games usually happen on Friday nights and it's something both Rob and I really look forward to. 

Rob and I played as parts of the Dutch fleet going up against the English in the Anglo-Dutch Wars. Rob had the van and I had the rear, we and the rest of the Dutch captains made aggressive moves and got stuck in on the English fleet. The English captains may have felt they were familiar with naval history but they were inexperienced with the rules and we made them pay. The English fleet was battered and suffered a serious defeat. Rob heard one of the English captains lament that while they were looking for a wargame, the Dutch players "were looking for a knife fight". I take that as a great compliment.

Historicon featured a painting competition. My friend Rob took second place in one category. There were many great entries and this rather macabre vignette of an ACW hospital caught my eye.

I didn't take many photos but this game of Pelieu during WW2 was an eye catcher. Between the vendor hall and the flea market (Wally's Basement), I didn't spend as much as I normally do. I purchased some scenery and a book on Wellington in India. In the flea market, I purchased some random Pendraken packs and some 1/700 WW1 aircraft and balloons.

Overall I had a blast, it was a lot of fun and the convention seemed to have a resurgent attendance. It was a bit odd coming home to a different "normal" but it is something I will have to get used to. I can't wait for Fall In 2023. 


Saturday, July 8, 2023

Bulldogs Away Playtest

I had a moment to playtest the most recent version of David Manley's Bulldogs Away. I had played a few solo games years ago but that was the first edition and I had long forgotten whatever I had initially learned. For the playtest, I'd fight a small action loosely based off an event that likely happened in August of 2008 during the Russian invasion of Georgia. In that action, a Georgian vessel was struck by a missile fired from a Russian Nanuchka-class corvette (Mirazh). At that time the Georgians had a Type-148 Tiger class fast attack craft donated by the Greek Navy (Dioskuria) and a Matka-class missile boat donated from the Ukrainians (Tbilisi).

I don't own any Matka-class models but I do have some Nanuchkas, Type-148/La Combattante models and also Osa-class missile boats. For this scenario, a single Russian Nanuchka will face off against a Georgian Type-148 and a Georgian Osa-2. In reality, the Georgians didn't have any Osas nor did they have any missiles on the Dioskuria or the Tbilisi (yikes!). Additionally, I gave the Nanuchka the export version armament of SS-N-2D Styx missiles instead of the more modern SS-N-9 Sirens that Russian versions were equipped with. 

Here we are in the Black Sea (which looks rather blue) off the coast of Abkhazia. The pre-game setup involves determining how many "radar blips" you have. You can have more blips than ships which can cause uncertainty for the enemy as to where your actual ships are. The Russians and Georgians rolled poorly. The Russians (not visible yet) only received one blip while the Georgians only rolled for a single blip which means the Type-148 was going to be visible.

And here is the Russian Nanuchka disguised as a blip.

The Georgian Type-148 cruising the waters off the coast. The Georgians won initiative and, after a round of movement (all ships going speed-3), the Type-148 attempted to identify the Russian blip without success.

During the Russian turn, the Nanuchka revealed itself as it attempted to detect the Georgian blip which it successfully did. No ships were within range for visual identification.

The mysterious blip now becomes a Georgian "contact".

And here is a picture of the situation after the movement and detection/identification phases. The Nanuchka (lower right) has a Type-148 approaching from the top-center of the picture and a Georgian contact in upper right hand corner. 

During the missile launch phase, first the Georgian Type-148 fired off a salvo of four Exocets (white caps) at the Nanuchka. Next the Russian Nanuchka launched two SS-N-2D Styx missiles back at the Type-148. Then the Osa-2 revealed itself (not shown) and sent two SS-N-2B Styx missiles (red caps) to join the Exocets already screaming towards the Nanuchka.

The Type-148 with the two yellow caps representing the SS-N-2D Styx launched from the Nanuchka. In the future, I will make some laminated card counters to represent the missile launches.

After launch phase was completed and all missiles fired being placed on targets, it was time for the combat phase. This is where the Russians losing initiative bit them in the backside, and I will explain why: In the combat phase, the winner of the initiative gets to pick which ship they'd activate first, during the combat phase in Bulldogs Away, the active ship shoots guns at targets, fires off SAMs against incoming missiles, deploys countermeasures and fires off CIWS but then must resolve missile attacks against it. 

The Georgians had the initiative and activated the Osa-2, which didn't have any missiles launched against it. The Osa was too far out to fire off its guns but at least it didn't have to fend off any incoming salvos.

The Russians were next and they needed to activate their lone ship. The Nanuchka was facing an onslaught of four Exocets and two Styx but at least it had SAMs and countermeasures like chaff and flares to give it some defense. Unfortunately they didn't do so well. While resolving the four Exocets,  the SAMs and countermeasures failed to intercept any of the incoming. Two of the four Exocets found their mark.

Here is a picture of the ship templates after resolution of the first Exocet hit which only caused some very light damage. The SAM system was KO'd but everything else was still operational. The good luck didn't last long as the second Exocet slammed into the Nanuchka causing critical damage. A roll of the different systems and weapons revealed that pretty much every system was destroyed: the fire control, elctronic countermeasures, elecro-optical equipment, electronic support measures, guns, missiles, etc.  

Here is the end result. At this point, I decided to end the test game as the Russian vessel wasn't going to be doing any fighting back. Perhaps I should have resolved the Styx launches as well but I wanted to post this report first. 

After I took the snap of the Nanuchka burning, it reminded me of this image of a burning Libyan Nanuchka which was knocked out in the Gulf of Sidra in March, 1986. 

Anyway, I digress...I enjoyed the play-test. I will go back and re-read through the rules to see what I got wrong and what I got right. Each turn has a lot of phases, the combat is very violent and the ships can't take much damage (realistic). I'm hoping to paint up enough ships and get proficient enough with the rules to get in a game with my good friends Rob and Bill at the upcoming Historicon convention.

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

1/2400 Missile Boats

Since I have a bit of wandering eye when it comes to maintaining focus with hobby projects, I wanted to show you what I am working while tackling the Crimean War project. The photos aren't the best but here are some 1/2400 missile boats. 

From left to right we have a Nanuchka missile corvette, two Osa missile boats and two La Combattante fast attack craft. All ships are by Viking Forge. I should add that I painted all of these over a decade ago. They remained in storage until now, when I decided to base them. 

Here is another photo with the addition of a Polnocny-class landing ship which is a 3D print ordered off of eBay. I also ordered a bunch of additional ships (Komars, Osas, Sa-ar 3s and a Sa'ar 4, AT-43 minesweeper and some Soviet-era cargo ships). 

The plan is to use David Manley's Bulldogs Away rules with these ships. I believe the first edition of the rules were released around 2006 (around the same time I painted those Viking Forge ships). Since then, a second edition was released which seems a bit more detailed. I also have 1/700 small craft for the Sri Lankan civil war.

With the small collection of 1/2400 boats, I can wargame some Iran/Iraq battles, Arab-Israeli and even some hypothetical actions like Egypt/Libya, SADF/Angola and a refight of the 2008 Russian battle with Georgian Navy (in the wargame scenario the Georgian boats will have missiles to make it a bit more even).