Friday, 21 June 2019

Battle Cry and the Risorgimento

The date for our next game had been in the diary for a couple of months and we talked about trying something different, but as the day drew nearer one of my cats broke a leg, which rather changed the dynamic in our calm and peaceful household.  Rather than postpone we opted for something easy to set up and play, but still wanted something a bit different.  A quick search through the scenarios on the Command and Colours website gave us Garibaldi's invasion of  Sicily in 1860 and the Battle of Calatafimi.

Garibaldi has landed and declared himself dictator of Sicily, as he marches on the capital, Palermo, the Neapolitan General Staff send General Landi to block him and put down the popular insurrection.  As usual we were playing a wargame with 54mm toy soldiers, here's how it went:

The opening positions find Garibaldi and Bixio with their 1,000 Red Shirts (the "Mille") occupying the village of Vita on the left, Major Sforza has rushed the Neapolitan infantry forward to occupy the hills of Pianto dei Romani in the centre.  On the hills beyond we can just make out the Picciotti, local militia, who have turned out to support the uprising.  On the right we find General Landi in Calatafimi bringing up the rest of the Neapolitan troops.

The Neapolitan troops have been pushed forward to occupy the hills, the artillery is served by seasoned professionals, the infantry are well trained and armed but are raw recruits, if they lose a morale check they will fall back two hexes.

General Landi in Calatafimi rouses the Chasseurs and reserve infantry, but they won't move out until after the fourth turn.

Garibaldi's Mille advance on the hills from the village of Vita.  Garibaldi himself can be seen leading the unit on the right, his second in command, Bixio is with the units on the left.

The Picciotti, poorly trained and armed, sit in the hills waiting to see what will happen, the scenario prevents them from taking any part in the action until after the fourth turn, their combat effectiveness is also reduces by 25%

The Neapolitan infantry wait apprehensively, overlooking the well cultivated valley, they can hear the Red Shirts approaching but their line of sight is blocked by the woods on the hills opposite.

Both sides move into contact in the centre

The action in the centre flows back and forth attack being met with counterattack and both sides giving good account of themselves.

A few well placed rounds from the Neapolitan artillery on the right flank has pinned down the Picciotti in their hills and things are looking desperate for the Red Shirts

The Neapolitan reserve finally get under way but it's too little, too late and the game will be over before they arrive.

Through shear force of personality Garibaldi leads his men in one final charge and breaks the Neapolitan line, as the enemy fall back in disorder the game is suddenly over.

The game played out in very much the same way as the actual battle 169 years ago, I guess that's the mark of a well designed scenario.  The figures are nearly all conversions from various American Civil War figures and the practised eye should be easily able to distinguish their origin, I counted seven different manufacturers making up the Red Shirts.  The game involved a lot of different terrain features, which took a while to set up and get acquainted with, but after that it moved very fast and we were done in about two hours. 

Sunday, 12 May 2019

Well that's all done for another year!

Yesterday was the thirtysomethingth Plastic Warrior Show in London, I forget which number we're up to, a sure sign of ageing), here are a few of the things I took a shine to:

A tongue in cheek diorama made by Dan Morgan shows the archaeological discovery of  ancient Replicants figures in the South Downs of England.  The archaeologists are all converted from Replicants wild west figures.

The Plastic Warrior Show has become the traditional showcase chosen by Replicants to launch their latest range, this year they have produced a set of Texas Rangers.  Not the sharpest photo, sorry about that.

It's not all plastic at PW (although it is mostly), here a nice selection of Elastolin and others composition, I thought the bears were awesome.

One of the nicest forts I've seen in a long while, this one hand built by the seller, if only I had the room for it..............

I love these early plastic aircraft, especially the twin engine bombers, I'm tempted to start collecting them but you have to draw the line somewhere........don't you?

Some serious hardware here, lovely old German tinplate from the 1930's, the AA truck and jeep in the centre are by Tippco, I didn't dare to turn over any of the price tags!

More from the same table, the panzer in foreground was made by GAMA, I don't recognise the large gun at the back but it looks to be like 1960's manufacture.

A typical table top at the show, an organised confusion of plastic figures, this table belonged to one of the German collectors.  Last year we had wondered what effect Brexit would would have on the attendance of dealers from Continental Europe, happily they all booked their tables way before Brexit was postponed, which bodes well for the future, it seems the lure of toy soldiers far outweighs a little inconvenience at customs.  The German guys were all staying overnight in Belgium so they could attend the Brussels Toy Soldier Show the next day......... and there was a spare seat for me if I wanted to go, was I tempted?  you bet I was.

A nice selection of rare and early English plastics, it continues to amaze me how much of this stuff there is out there.  We all acquire far more toys than we need or want and the PW show has always been primarily aimed at collectors who want to dispose of their surplus, this year the show was fully booked well in advance and there was a sizable waiting list in the event of any dropouts.  I find this very encouraging, it indicates an enthusiastic and resilient collectors community.

Sunday, 28 April 2019

It's surprising what turns up.

The recent mild weather in the South East (UK)  has ushered in the start of the Car Boot Sale season a little earlier than usual.  Our local one is held on a farm, so it's a good long walk in the early morning fresh air, and I like to go along as often as I can for the exercise.  Who am I kidding, I go along for the bacon rolls and to hunt toy soldiers!   It can be very hit or miss but  here's what I picked up this week and last:

A group of modern white metal figures made by Del Prado, the first one depicting Captain Souter of the 44th Regiment of Foot could have walked straight out of the Last Stand at Gandamak painting by William Barnes Wollen.  The remaining five are all types of the French Foreign Legion, this series was issued in France but not in the UK so they are harder to find here, I use them mostly for uniform research and at less than £2 each they had to come home with me.

I know nothing about old tin toys, except that I like them, and I do like to include them as set dressing in wargames.  The saloon car is about the rights size for 54mm toy soldiers while the Omnibus is a bit small but I think we'll get away with it, they both need a bit of cleaning up and straightening out but nothing too drastic.  I don't think there's any great age to them, they look like modern reproductions to me but for a couple of quid each they had to go in the bag.  Likewise the ceramic stable block which was made to take a tea light candle but will now illuminate my toy village.

Finally a hotch-potch of odds and ends that came in at about 50p each from various junk boxes.  The first three Britains/Herald Robin Hood figures are so damaged and scuffed that they will end up as conversion fodder.  The Evzone and horse from the Lone Star Lone Ranger figure will be passed on to someone else at the forthcoming Plastic Warrior Show next month.

The remaining two figures I'll keep, the chap in green is a Starlux character figure of Barberousse (Red beard) from the ORTF (Office de Radiodiffusion Television Francaise) TV series Richard Coeur de Lion.  The set was issued in the mid 1960's and included two foot figures each of Richard, Redbeard and Blondel and one mounted figure of Richard, they're quite hard to find.  The diminutive figure of Napoleon was made in France by MDM.  The palm tree is a modern white metal item.

The Plastic Warrior Show is being held on Saturday 11th May and further details can be found on the Plastic Warrior blog, link in the column to the left.  Good Hunting!

Sunday, 14 April 2019

An interlude while I do some 1:1 scale painting

This past week I've been up a ladder with a paint brush redecorating the hall and this has necessitated taking down the display of toy soldiers I have there.  The figures need to be individually removed and dusted so I took these photos to remind me where they go when I put the display back up, as I'd taken the pics I thought I might as well share them with you dear reader.

Discreetly camouflaged by several years of dust, the figures here are not any particular favourites just odds and ends that I've taken a shine to and picked up over time. Occasionally things get moved around but the order of display is largely governed by the size of each compartment.

I've always been very open about collecting toy soldiers and when I mention my interest to anyone they immediately assume that I mean lead guardsmen standing to attention in red tunics (and in fairness there are a few of those), so this little display is my way of showing the diversity of the subject.  Click on a picture to enlarge, there are no prizes for identifying what they are but it might give you a minute or two of fun, now where did I put that duster?

Sunday, 7 April 2019

Seen at the London Toy Soldier Show March 2019

The show in London last weekend seemed a little flat to me, but it was nice to meet old friends and I spent most of my money so that's what counts, here are a few of the things that took my fancy:

This little collection appealed to me, I really liked the tractor, it makes a change form horse drawn limbers and I'm sure it would be easy enough to bodge one out of some bits and pieces of tin and wood.

I have a descent sized Roman collection and I'm slowly building up the Gauls/Barbarians to go with them but the project has lost momentum so I took this pic to provide me with some inspiration, I think the figures are by King & Country.

I've just finished painting up 50 Vikings, Normans and Saxons but have another 100 or so to go, mine don't look as good as this so the pic gives me something to aim for.

These superb Conquistadors are from a range made by Morgan Miniatures, my current project is a TudorBethan mish mash of 16th Century types so I took this pic to give me some reference points.

I'm not mad about tanks and vehicles but I do quite like some of the quirky stuff produced in that period of development between the wars

My stash from the show was mostly modern production, here the two sets of Conquistadors from Chintoys, I currently have two sets on the paint table and these additions will be used for conversions.  In the middle a lone pikeman from Replicants, found in a junk box, and at the back a mounted Russian made Teutonic knight alongside William of Normandy by Del Prado, the latter is a bit large but I find their personality figures ideal for command groups and at the moment they are as cheap as chips for the quality.  

My only vintage purchases of the day, some Italian composition, I think made by Salpa but I need to check, they represent modern infantry which isn't really my thing but they were very cheap and I just liked the poses.

Rounding off, some Conte Normans on the right, to the left more of the unnamed Russian made Teutonic knights along with Seljuk Turks from the same manufacturer.  The knights vary in size from about 60mm (which is just about okay) up to 70mm, very nice sculpts but just too big for me so I will be passing some of them on at the forthcoming Plastic Warrior show on 11th May.