Saturday, 9 February 2019

Battle Cry Isandlwana with 54mm toy soldiers

The new year has seen a long awaited return to playing games with toy soldiers, give or take a day it was the 140th anniversary of the Battle of Isandlawna so it seemed only fitting to recreate it on the table.  Anthony has been diligently building up a superb Zulu War collection made by Little Legion Toy Soldiers and found a scenario for Isandlwana on the internet using the Battle Cry game system devised by Richard Borg.  We were joined by John, a long standing enthusiast of H G Wells "Little Wars" who acted as umpire.  Here's how it went:

The Zulus deployed in traditional "Buffalo Head" formation, the main body (chest) formed up across the donga while the horns work their way around the flanks. The British infantry form up in line behind the donga, with Durnford's Natal Native Horse on the left flank and a gun in the centre covering the right flank.

The Zulu line makes an impressive sight, they have no firepower but if they can close to contact their units have greater resilience in hand to hand combat.  The Zulu also have a slight advantage in command control to reflect their mobility and tactical use of terrain.

The British depend on being able to bring their superior firepower to bear.

A few of my Zulus, produced by "A Call to Arms" made up the numbers, painting the laces on Zulu shields is a most laborious chore. 

The British line waits steadily for the onslaught.

The Zulu right horn falls on the British left flank and steadily wears it down.

Durnford's troopers attack the Zulu left horn and stall the advance on that flank but are wiped out in the process.

With the main action taking place on both flanks the Zulu centre waits to see the outcome.

The British line moves up to shorten the range and fires off a volley forcing some of the Zulu units to fall back.

With the flanks being steadily overwhelmed by the horns, the chest surges forward in an all out attack.

The British line fragments, and suddenly it's all over.

The game played out surprisingly similar to the historical narrative, which is the mark of a well designed scenario and what we always aim for.  It took about three hours to play (including a break for beer and bacon butties).   


The above event will be held on 16th March 2019 in Woking and you can find all the details on the Group Forum here: LWR Forum 2019 Games Day  Anthony plans to put on another game using his Little Legions Zulu War collection at the event and will be using the Portable Wargame rules devised by Bob Cordery.  So if you want to watch or take part in some great wargames played using 54mm toy soldiers why not come along for the day.

Friday, 21 December 2018

Lost and Found

I recently recovered the hard drive from a laptop long since out of use, among numerous pictures of cats and holidays there were a few of toy soldiers, including these:

Clearly the early moves of a wargame but I don't remember when, who was playing or what the rules were.  No matter, it's always nice to see old toys out on the table.  I think I originally posted these pics up on one of the old Yahoo Groups so there may be more of the same wafting around in the ether.

A close up of the Allied Command.  Most of the mounted figures came from the collection of John Ruddle and have seen action in his legendary garden wargames, a few of the foot conversions are my own humble efforts.

Wishing a peaceful, happy Christmas to one and all, hopefully there will be more toy soldiers in the New Year.

Friday, 16 November 2018

London Toy Soldier Show

It seems I took these pictures at the London Toy Soldier Show in December 2017 and started a post but never published it, so here it is, nearly a year late but at least it serves as a reminder that the next show will be on Saturday 1st December 2018 more details HERE.  I can't remember who any of the makers of these figures are, but they are all regulars at the show, so I'll just let the pictures do the talking.

If you know who made any of these figures do let me know and I'll give them the plug they deserve.  I use pictures like this to to give me inspiration when it comes to making conversions and also for ideas on painting schemes so I hope it will be of some help to others too.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Vintage Cherilea Marlborough

Way back in the early formative years of my toy soldier collecting interest I recall a picture of the hollowcast metal figure of the Duke of Marlborough made by toy manufacturer Cherilea. I think I may have seen it in one of J G Garratt's books?  Whatever, but it struck me as a very fine piece and I've admired it ever since. Everything turns up eventually and after nearly 50 years one finally came my way, so I thought I'd share it.

Cherilea have a well deserved reputation for producing some of the most poorly sculpted and anatomically challenged figures in the entire world of Toy Soldiers, but it wasn't always the case. Back in the 1930's Wilfred Cherrington, a co-founder of Cherilea, worked with the gifted figure sculptor Richard Courtney and produced the moulds for his early series of medieval knights (Greenhill, Old Toy Soldier Newsletter 1987).  Influence of some sort must have played between the two men as Courtney's early foot figures are very toy like while Cherilea later produced a short range of very fine figures known as the "Baronial Series"

The Baronial Series only ran to three figures, described in the catalogue as:
M1. 15th Century Knight in Gothic Armour
M2. John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough
M3. Edward the Black Prince

For some reason the figure of Marlborough came with the horse and sword designed for the Black Prince, I wonder why they did that?  I always thought the figure looked a bit over sized for this horse but both are nice sculpts.  Alongside the Cherilea figure is an Infantry Officer of the period made by Tradition, this is a modern white metal collectors figure.

The M1 knight (often called the Great Helm Knight) was also made in plastic from the original hollowcast moulds but sadly Marlborough and the Black Prince never made that transition.  I don't believe in being prissy with my toys so this Marlborough will be taking his place on the wargames table just as soon as I get his troops painted up.

Friday, 20 July 2018

Battle Cry in 54mm

For those unfamiliar with it, Battle Cry is a boardgame set in the American Civil War, it's played on a hexed board using 20mm toy soldiers which are activated by drawing order cards.  Separate terrain hexes can be laid on the board to create an infinite variety of battlefields.   In need of some diversion from One Hour Wargames, and as Anthony had acquired a mat with 6" hexes, we opted to run a game of Battle Cry using 54mm toy soldiers (also I realised my ACW toy soldiers hadn't had an airing since the Gettysburg game in 2013).

The game also includes a number of scenarios based on actual battles showing you where to lay out the terrain features and the starting positions for all units.  We decided to refight the First Battle of Kernstown   This sees the Confederates under Stonewall Jackson inadvertently attack a much stronger Union force due to faulty intelligence.  Here's how the game went:

View of the left and centre of the field from the Rebel side.  The Union artillery dominates the Rebel left from the commanding hills in the background.

The Rebel right and centre, the picket fence running through the middle of the field provides scant cover but creates a clear psychological barrier and rallying point between the two forces.

All movement and weapon ranges are measured in hexes rather than feet and inches, combat is between units rather than individual figures and is decided by simple dice rules. This makes for a fairly fast moving game once you've gotten used to the terrain effects, which are central to the system.

The Rebels hold a naturally strong defensive position, the treeline on their left protects that flank from the Union artillery and helps to even out the disparity in numbers between the two sides.

The Union force commands all the high ground and comprises 9 units of infantry, 2 cavalry, 2 guns and 2 Generals, while the confederates have 6 units of infantry, 1 cavalry, 2 guns and 3 Generals.

Aggressive Confederate cavalry action on the left keeps the Union right wing in check.

6" hexes are the ideal size for 54mm figures and give the game something of an old school Morschauser look.  If you don't want to stretch to buying a custom made mat it's easy enough to make one by cutting out a cardboard hex template and using it to draw around on a plain green sheet (if I can do it any idiot can!).

Most of the action was in the center and it could have gone either way as the relentless Union pressure took it's toll on the Confederates, finally a last desperate counterattack with a Rebel yell sent the Yankees running from the field.

On the Union right a massed attack broke against the stoutly held fence line and suddenly the battle was over. It could have gone either way and the Union force was slightly ahead for most of the game but that changed after the attack in the centre broke.In 1862 the battle was a tactical defeat for Jackson and the Confederates but happily in 2018 they just about managed to hold their own!  The whole game took abut two and a half hours to play.

This system is ideal for use with 54mm figures and we feel this size of toy soldier adds much to the visual aspect of the game.  It can be used without alteration for any of the modern wars in the second half of the 19th century and I have a fancy to try it for a Crimean game sometime (a chance to get out those Britains hollowcast guardsmen in bearskins).  Another bonus with this system is the the order cards provided are ideal for randomising movement if you are playing a solo game (as we all have to sometimes).