Monday, September 30, 2013

Back from the Future: Lost World monster hunters for In Her Majesty's Name...

Lord John Roxton tracks something that has escaped the plateau

I've been wondering about putting together my own company for In Her Majesty's Name but every time I think of something someone else has already done it.  Now, however, I have an idea of something that might work and which will also help start me on another project I have had percolating away for some years now.

Neovenator: the Isle of Wight's very own dinosaur

I have been planning a Lost World project for some time and have been steadily collecting model dinosaurs from a variety of sources, including Copplestone Castings, the British Museum shop and various seaside shops on the Isle of Wight which is, of course, officially Dinosaur Island this year.

Copplestone Castings figure from the Dinosaur Hunter's pack

It was just a matter of finding the right figures for the Lost World characters.  Searching through the lead pile I found figures for most of the characters I need from Foundry's Darkest Africa and Copplestone's High Adventure ranges. So here is the first from my Lost World/Monster Hunters company, Lord John Roxton, who I painted over the weekend.  I really like this figure, with his backpack and blanket roll, but the shorts are really wrong for Victorian times.

Conan Doyle's version of the four adventurers

The Lost World project will look at the successor to the Professor Challenger expedition which, at the end of The Lost World novel, was going to include just Roxton and Malone.  I will have both Summerlee and Challenger join the expedition at the last minute.  I found figures for Malone and Summerlee quite quickly but Challenger was, er, a challenge.  I needed someone, ideally, with a very big beard! The problem is now solved and I hope to finish painting all three, plus the usually forgotten character of Zambo, in the next week.

Jill St John in The Lost World (1960)

This also gives me the opportunity to field a suitably feisty female character.  Every film or TV version has added a gratuitous female adventurer to the expedition: Paula White (Bessie Love) in the 1925 version,  Jennifer Holmes (Jill St John) in the 1960 version, Jennie Nielsen (Tamara Gorski) in the two John Rhys-Davies 1992 films, Amanda White (Jayne Heitmeyer) in the 1998 version, Marguerite Krux (Rachel Blakely - rather splendid) in the 1999 Canadian TV series and Agnes Cluny (Elaine Cassidy) in the 2001 BBC version, which is probably my favourite dramatisation even if it does, as do all the versions, play fast and loose with the plot and characters.

A rather gratuitously wet Elaine Cassidy in the BBC's The Lost World from 2001

Conan Doyle was not always very internally consistent with his characters so, while she isn't mentioned in The Lost World, in The Land of Mists (1926) Challenger has an adult daughter, Enid, who Malone takes a shine to and eventually marries.  I have a few feisty females for my Darkest Africa Zambezi project and they would work for the late nineteenth Century setting of IHMN but not so well for the just pre-WW1 setting of The Lost World.  The Copplestone Female archaeologists pack has some good young ladies but the two best ones are wearing jodhpurs, which did not become fashionable wear for women until Coco Chanel wore them in 1921.

She designed her own costumes for the series, you know

I think there is also a place for a plateau-stranded wild beauty, like the potently named (for the Legatus, anyway) Veronica, as played by the lovely Jennifer O'Dell in the Canadian TV series Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World (1999-2002).  One of the several not Jane figures will work for her, I think.

There is also the opportunity, as hinted at in some of the later Challenger books, of including German spies out to discover the diamonds of Maple White Land.

So, that's The Lost World project nearly sorted but how do I get characters from around 1910 back to the late nineteenth century?  The answer of course is a time portal.  I did toy with the idea of some kind of stargate but have settled instead on a sparkling anomaly.  This will transfer a plague of prehistoric creatures onto the streets of London followed, fortuitously by the group of experienced dinosaur hunters who ran into a similar anomaly up on the plateau.  It is a London slightly different from the one they experienced in their younger days, however.   In Conan Doyle's books Lord Roxton was a friend of Sherlock Holmes so there is no doubt who the consulting detective would call in to deal with the flocks of feral reptiles terrorising the East End as well as some of the other monstrous creatures abroad in the fog-bound alleys of Whitechapel.  Roxton was a great anti-slaver so it would be quite possible for him to appear in the Zambezi taking on the Arab slavers, who appear to have captured some form of monstrous creature: She-who-must-be fed.

The real problem will be working out statistics for the IHMN company but the authors of the rules have supplied (I think) the means to calculate these. Also others are creating their own, rather excellent, companies which can now be found on the In Her Majesty's Name site.

So, another project!  Hooray!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Full of (Far) Eastern Promise...

Next up!

The Legatus is still frantically busy at work and today I had a one to one training session on our new database thing.  After about four hours I had sort of got the hang of it but I'm sure I will have forgotten it all tomorrow!  Mr Mike Whitaker, on his splendid Trouble At T'Mill blog had another one of his regular techie tips yesterday.  I always find these fascinating as I don't understand a single word of them.  They always seem full of useful stuff I should be doing but it's all like Middle English to me; there are recognisable words in there but it's like reading a particularly obscure piece of Chaucer.  When every one else was doing The Canterbury Tales for A Level my English teacher Martin (eh, heh!) Payne insisted we study The Parlement of Foules a poem of such catatonic dullness it managed to make Henry James look interesting and put me off Chaucer for life.  The only interesting thing about The Parlement of Foules is that it is the first recorded instance of St Valentine's Day being noted as a special celebration for lovers.  Of course, at that point I had no interest in Valentine's Day and had yet to start spending the epic amounts of money the cursed  "celebration" would cost me over the next thirty years or so. Anyway, yit happeth me ful ofte in bokes reede but have never had any on the Japanese in World War 2 but this has now been remedied by the arrival of my Osprey The Japanese Army 1931-45 (1) (I hadn't realised there was a (2)).

Anyway, it seems to contain all the information I require to paint my Warlord Games plastic Japanese and, indeed, I have chosen a suitable base colour for their uniforms and started a few last night.  There is only one problem with them so far in that I have used the included plastic bases and discovered (as no doubt everyone else did years ago) that PVA glue doesn't stick to bare plastic, so all my sand is falling off in patches.  I usually put the sand on top of plastic filler on cardboard or metal bases so I'd better spread a thin layer of filler on the bases first, which I didn't do because the figures have no integral bases so don't need them hiding under filler.


It's good to see Warlord coming out with some spare heads for these today, including helmets with foliage and the distinctive peaked caps with the neck covers.  I may try to get a little more done on them this weekend although my daughter is returning from Edinburgh for the weekend so will require me to ferry her about everywhere, no doubt.  I can't really paint at night and, for some reason, don't enjoy it, so I am doing a little first thing in the morning.  It's good to be painting regularly again so I hope to get a bit more done between now and Christmas.

The top fifteen finalists for Miss Universe Japan

One of the things I fretted about was the skin colour for Japanese.  My Warlord Chinese I have painted a rather garish saffron colour (Humbrol 63) to the extent that while they don't quite look like the Simpsons they are a little bit too Sax Rohmer yellow devilish. I don't know any Japanese people so had to do some intensive research by looking at the finalists of this year's Miss Japan contest.  Do they have a yellow tint? Hardly.  I have known quite a few people of Chinese extraction, several of whom's skin I have examined in close detail (one of them has just got back in touch with me after 25 years so I'll ask to examine her skin again (maybe not on our first reunion!).  I can't think that they really look any different from Europeans or, rather, they have just as much skin colour variation as Europeans do.

Anyway, here is Japan's entry for November's Miss Universe contest, Yukimi Matsuo.  Lots of Japanese skin here and although it is a lovely colour I can't say it is yellow!  Anyway in the end I put a little Humbrol 62 into my normal Humbrol 61 skin tone on the basis that if they had been out in the South Pacific they would have got tanned.

I seem to be turning Japanese at the moment, with work on my first North Star figures for Ronin beginning, albeit rather gingerly.  Incidentally, a past girlfriend (V, the passionate Catholic one) had a cousin who was a professional musician (you can see him in the band in Local Hero (1983)) and he knew the man who wrote The Vapors I'm Turning Japanese.  Interestingly, this one song was earning him £25,000 a year in royalties years afterwards; which is why you need to be a songwriter not a, here today gone tomorrow, singer.

The easier ones

Anyway, the casting of these figures, I have to say, is much better than the In her Majesty's Name figures, which had quite a few misaligned halves.  They needed a very little filing but there was no flash and the detail is very good.  There were quite a lot of those little filaments (they have a technical name but I can't remember what it is) that needed trimming off, but that's all.  I have undercoated one set and started painting four of them.  I've decided to ease myself in by working on the simpler peasant figures without the armour first.  I have actually finished three now which are my first completed figures for three months. The key problem for me with the armour is that, being lacquered it should have a gloss finish so I will have to paint the figures in matt for everything but the armour, then mat varnish and then apply gloss over the top for the armour which, given the stickiness of Humbrol gloss enamel, is going to be a challenge.  I ordered the North Star Koryu Buntai set as well, as it has representations of the Seven Samurai in it.  This arrived from North Star in a couple of days (unusually) and I also bought the Criterion edition of the film.  It's a Region 1 DVD but my DVD player is a US one so that isn't a problem.  It's multi-region but I only use it for discs I get in Canada or the US.  I use the Playstation 3 for UK DVDs.


Moving from Japan to China (as did the Imperial army, of course) and equally full of Eastern promise, I have just added to my recent music purchases with a really splendid CD of piano encores by the young Chinese pianist Yuja Wang called Fantasia (nothing to do with dancing hippopotami).  She really is a find and manages to combine dazzling virtuosity with extraordinary sensitivity as well.  There is nothing consciously flashy about her playing, unlike, for example, the ghastly Lang Lang whose idiosyncrasies are turning him into a parody of himself.  Anyway, I can't take a musician seriously whose name makes him sound like a Teletubby


Miss Wang doesn't look remotely like a Teletubby and is somewhat infamous for wearing the smallest dresses on the concert stage since Vanessa Mae but, as she says herself, she won't be able to wear then when she is forty so why not now?  Quite.  I need to look out for more of her recordings.  I do wonder what happens if you are a sensationally gifted young female classical musician and you aren't easy on the eye, however.  Well, I know: you don't get signed. Classical music is now as bad as pop music in this.  

Finally, I have just placed an order for something so left field for me that I have even surprised myself by it.  Whether it will ever turn into anything or will just join the dozens of other unstarted projects I don't know. We shall see!

Anyway, now I have finished this post I can stop playing Japanese music which, like bagpipes, you can only take so much of.  Twang!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A few new tunes for painting to...

As I am actually doing a bit of painting at present (none yesterday, though, sadly) I thought I'd get some new tunes to paint to, as I can't paint without music.

Now given I have more than 16,000 tracks on my iTunes you'd think that I would be able to find something to play but it's always nice to have something new, so I have had a bit of a blitz in the last few weeks.

Casino Royale the Complete Original Soundtrack  

This is one of my six favourite sixties soundtracks (along with How to Murder your Wife (Hefti), The Ipcress File (Barry), The Italian Job (Jones), Our Man Flint (Goldsmith) and The Pink Panther (Mancini)).  I had the shorter CD of Bacharach's engaging score for years but recently acquired the extended version.  Perfect for painting spies and secret agents to.  Except I don't have any.

Highlight:  The Look of Love by Dusty Springfirled with Herb Alpert's slinky double tracked trumpet.

The Unknown Sibelius 

The Lahti Symphony Orchestra have been recording some interesting early versions of Sibelius's work amongst BIS's complete Sibelius project and here they round it up with a few oddments, some of which haven't been recorded before.  Perfect for painting Great Northern War figures.

Highlight:  The not quite three minutes, in four fragments, of what is probably all that remains of Sibelius 8th symphony, the manuscript of which he burnt in disgust as he couldn't complete it to his satisfaction.  Actually, I think it would have been rather fine from what I can hear but what do I know?

The Solent: Fifty Years of Music by Ralph Vaughan Williams

Amongst the endless repeats of Spring from Vivaldi's Four Seasons, Jupiter from The Planets (actually, I don't mind that), Rachaminov's Second Piano Concerto (I don't mind that either), the opening of Beethoven's 5th and Nimrod from the Enigma variations you occasionally discover something new and worthwhile on Classic FM.  Such was the case with a piece I recently heard whose style sounded faintly familiar but I couldn't place.  It turned out to be a world premiere recording of an early piece of Vaughan Williams called The Solent.  The name alone would have been enough for me to buy it!  It wasn't available on download so I actually bought the CD!  Perfect for painting early Dark Ages Britons to.

Highlight: The Solent itself. Early flashes of the Vaughan Williams string sound to be found in the Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis a few years later, coupled with some Tristan-style Wagnerian effects from before the time when Ravel talked him out of the Wagnerian style.  


Lots of weird drum and flute music with, strangely, cod Mahler (although bits sound like the more mysterious parts of John Williams Raiders of the Lost Ark score). Very atmospheric, though.  Perfect for painting Samurai! Which is, of course, why I bought it.

Nino Rota Piano Concerti

Classical critics are always rude about film composers and even ruder about them if they have the temerity to attempt a piece of "serious" music.  For years Rota was, for me, the composer of the soundtrack to Waterloo (1970) and I wasn't aware of his other film music.  Rota's concerti are good enough to have received several recordings but this one conducted by Muti (who was one of Rota's students) is excellent.  If you like Rachmaninov, Shostakovitch, Ravel or Saint Saens piano concerti you will like these.  Perfect for Italians in Russian service?

Highlight: The finale of the concerto in E; a big romantic piece.

Piano de Bossa

I need something a little more relaxing if I am painting (or. more likely, basing or filing) late at night so this album of Jobim standards is just the job. Febian Reza Pane has a lovely delicate touch  Perfect for drinking Champagne in the bath with someone from Vancouver.

Highlight: Agua de Beber.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Follow the yellow brick road...

White Horse, Road, London E1

Steve the Wargamer and Scott have wondered, following my previous post, whether the yellow bricks seen in the East End of London are a post-blitz phenomenon.   They are not.

St Matthew's vicarage Commercial Road, London E1 (1871)

These yellow bricks are known as London Stocks and were extensively used in the nineteenth and early twentieth century before being largely replaced by the machine-made, red Flettons.  The London Stock brick was handmade and the colour came from the clay used in their production, many of which originated in Yiewsley (incidentally, where the Rolling Stones, Ronnie Wood grew up), Hillingdon, in Middlesex.  Similar bricks were also made in Kent and Essex.

Fournier Street, London E1, where two of Jack the Ripper's victims were seen before their demise.

Brickfields were opened in Hillingdon in about 1815 and in 1876 a branch of the Grand Union canal was cut from Yiewsley to West Drayton to transport the bricks into central London along the Paddington branch of the canal to Paddington Wharf.  The brickworks were churning out 5 million London Stocks a year at this time.

Anchor Brewery building (1872) Whitechapel Road, London E1

By the beginning of the twentieth century the clay deposits had become largely worked out and production dropped to 2 million bricks a year by 1930. The last brickfield closed in 1935 and now you have to pay premium prices for reclaimed London Stock bricks.

The trees mark the former course of the canal

The special branch of the Grand Union Canal, known as Otter Dock was closed and filled in.  Trees were planted where the canal had been in what is now Colham Avenue, Hillingdon.

The Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel Road, London E1

So, I want to see some yellow bricks from the likes of 4Ground for their Whitechapel to Baker Street range. Much of London was yellow!

Whitechapel Station (1884), London E1 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

More for In Her Majesty's Name...including a police station

I managed about twenty minutes painting on some of my IHMN figures today which is more than I have done for about two months.  I am working on two companies: the Scotland Yard one and the Egyptian one.

I knew there was another rules supplement for IHMN due called Heroes, Villains and Fiends but now there is another one as well: as Osprey has revealed on it's 2014 preview on its website. They mistakenly call it Sleeping Dragon, Rising Surf in their website announcement.  I assume they meant Sleeping Dragon, Rising Sun and that it presages all sorts of oriental fiendishness.  Unless, of course this is the opportunity to create my Baywatch army (I have seen one on the web somewhere). "Yasmine has the special ability "distraction" which causes her opponents to freeze and be incapable of action for one move.  This increases to two moves if she is running."

In addition, North Star have announced figures for a sixth company: the Brick Lane Commune; a right bunch of anarchists and pinkos if I ever saw them.  I'm tempted to order them immediately but I think I better finish some more figures first!  Nothing particularly steampunk about these which, I suspect, could make them the range's best sellers to date.

Meanwhile, I continue to fret about scenery but have the beginnings of a layout in my mind.  Scott is making great progress on his second Victorian terrace but my modelling skills aren't up to that and so I cheated this week and ordered 4Ground's Victorian police station which arrived very quickly, I have to say.  It's a big heavy box and was absolutely stuffed with bits including, entertainingly, wooden clothes pegs and rubber bands to assist in construction.  It's what Warlord Games would call "replete" with wooden sprues.  Incidentally, the word replete is being used more and more lately.  When I was younger it had a more specific use meaning a person who was full of food but now it's used to just mean full, which although technically correct I find annoying, for some reason.

I haven't built a laser cut building kit before and am now thinking that maybe I should have started with a cart, or some such, first.  The instructions for the police station are on four A3 sides with one being a diagram of the parts and the other three being colour photographs of the assembly.  There are 146 stages in the construction!  The instructions were good but missed one or two stages, missed some of the part numbers out and even gave the wrong one once (so far) but they were pretty good on the whole.  The other problem I encountered were bits falling out of the sprues (are they called sprues if they are wood?) when they were handled which means some careful checking of loose parts against the diagram was sometimes necessary.  I also had one small part missing (or I lost it) but fortunately it was easy to replicate in using some left over wood.

Anyway, I got it out on the kitchen table this evening and started work on it. Some of it is quite fiddly as you have to hold together and place things at the same time but I was very impressed how well things went together with only one or two slight bits of trimming to get things to fit in the holes.  As the thing came together what had felt quite flimsy became increasingly robust.  

What I hadn't realised about this kit is that it includes some interior detailing.  I don't think any of the initial publicity shots showed these interior features, such as the cells and what I take to be a mortuary.  Anyway, after three and three quarter non stop hours I have got the basic structure of the ground floor done.  I would imaging that there is at least another eight hours work to go before it is finished.  It's really nice, though and my only complaint is that the outside is red bricks whereas nearly all East End Victorian London buildings have yellow bricks.  Yellow bricks in this area are much more common than red ones for buildings of this period but people think red bricks equals Victorian. Something that Ripper Street, which is filmed in Dublin, of course, perpetuates.

Here for example, is Brick Lane in the East End and most of the buildings have yellow bricks.  Never mind, I am thinking of giving the finished building a good coating of "soot" anyway.  The next part of the assembly looks like really fiddly doors.  Not looking forward to that!

Friday, September 20, 2013

My top ten posts of all time...

Steve the Wargamer has just posted about his all time total page views for his various posts, as he wonders why some score so many more than others.  It is an interesting topic so I thought I would do the same in my, inevitably, more long winded way.  He is also more techie than me so can do a nice neat table, which I cannot!

A quick analysis shows that not confining myself to wargames alone makes for a larger view rate (especially if the post includes pictures of girls), which is not surprising really.  Girls attract many more viewers than model soldiers.  My most viewed post (of Linda Lusardi) in my other incarnation's blog has had 305,797 views.  That's getting on for twice what this entire blog has clocked up since April 2006!

1 Cyclops 27 Feb 2012, 4127 views, 2 comments

I had thought Angus McBride was first but in fact it is my entry on the Cyclops.  Harryhausen power has probably boosted this outside the wargames (have you noticed how Windows doesn't recognise the word wargame as a correct spelling?) community.

Something for the Angus McBride 1 Sep 2012, 2879 views, 0 comments

This also attracted a fair number of non-wargaming visitors, I suspect.  Can't think why.

On the Workbench 6 June 2010, 2781 views, 0 comments

All about Trojans this one but I can't claim it as a sole wargames post because it has a couple of pictures of young ladies in it (incarnations of Helen of Troy) which may have skewed the hit rate.

Tales of two tragic ships 12 Oct 2009, 2637 views, 1 comment

This is a history post rather than a wargames one so it doesn't count either.

The First Schleswig War 1848-1850  2 February 2009 2329 views, 4 comments

This is more about uniform books than wargaming but is close.

Games Worshop Hobbit Figures They cost what? 24 Nov 2012, 2293 views, 10 comments

This is really the only pure wargaming post in my top ten and its a rant.  Who would have thought it?

Wars of the Roses 26 May 2009, 2206 views, 1 comment

Pictures I took at a re-enactment at a very hot Loseley Park in 2009.

Airfix Westland Whirlwind Stages 1 & 2 6 April 2010 2107 views, 3 comments

I am embarrassed by this one as I couldn't stand not having proper paints so never finished the model and, even worse, threw it away in disgust.

Citadel Realm of Battle Gameboard 2088 views, 3 comments

You won't be surprised to hear that although I bought one of these soon afterwards I still have only painted one tile out of six.

10 Cheryl Cole does Warhammer 40,000 2072 views, 1 comment

Ah, the formerly lovely Cheryl,  So cheery and friendly when she lived around the corner from me but now a despoiled husk of her former self who looks more like a Yakuza than a sex object (she was never really a singer).  Tragedy!

So even more time wasted writing a useless post when I should be undercoating my galley mast.  Maybe I'll go and do that now so at least I have achieved something today (although I have had a distracting box of something delivered today.  Clue: It smells like rotting fish).  

Thursday, September 19, 2013

It's International Talk like a Pirate day!

Swipe me with a marlinspike if it don't be talk like a pirate day again, me hearties!

I dug out my pirates for this occasion and was rather surprised at how many I have painted over the years.  I tend to paint one or two when doing other things but these have mounted up over time. Nearly all are Foundry ones which I think I bought in one of their deals, so I no doubt have a lot more lurking around somewhere.  They have bucket loads of character and just looking at them makes me want to dig another couple out!

Apart from the Foundry figures I have also done a few Black Scorpion pirate girls which are equally nice to paint but tower over the Foundry figures somewhat.  I also have some of their skeleton pirates and (not very historically accurate) Royal Marines which I got for trying some games based on the Disney Pirates of the Caribbean on-line game which Guy and I used to play a lot.  Ironically (or perhaps not) Disney are closing down this online game today, much to the annoyance of the hundreds of thousands of players worldwide.

Here is the Legatus' online avatar taking a last look at one of the environments as I want to build some pirate buildings based on them.

The set for Port Royal was built in Wallilabou Bay in St Vincent and bits of it are still there today.  You can see the building above which was the inspiration for its digital equivalent in the online game pictured.

Depressingly I haven't played a pirate game since November 2008 but getting some scenery for WW2 Pacific would also work for the Caribbean (pretty much).  I have ordered some palm trees so may get some scenic bases done.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The best laid plans... plus...Banzai and Colours!

The galley so far

Things have not gone very well on the hobby front in the last week or so.  I was making slow but steady progress on my Roman Galley for the Thapsus game at Colours this weekend but work crises got in the way and ate into all my evenings.  I was hoping to have most of Saturday last weekend before taking Charlotte to Edinburgh but various pre-trip issues saw to that.  I had to admit to Big Red Bat that my galley was not going to be ready, about which I feel very guilty.  I sort of lost heart when I realised that one steering oar was missing and the other was broken with a missing bit too.  Fortunately Dave at Grand Manner has promised to sort this out for me.  I am determined to finish it soon!

The Legatus takes the healthy option by having scrambled eggs

Despite booking the tickets back in May I could only get an evening flight to Edinburgh and then the plane was two hours late!  Charlotte and I were very tired when we arrived at the Crowne Plaza at 12.10am only to be told that they had let our room go as we arrived after midnight and they didn't have any others.  Edinburgh was full because something like 15,000 new students at the city's four universities were all arriving that weekend.  The man at the desk said he would try and get us something outside the city.  Now, the Legatus is (on the whole) a placid sort of person who prefers to avoid conflict and tension.  On this occasion, however, I had had enough.  I firmly pointed out that I was an Inter-Continental Hotels group platinum cardholder and nothing like this had ever happened to me in any of the sixty two countries I have visited.  Ever!  The man disappeared into the back and the acting manager appeared within about two minutes.  Within another ten minutes they had got us a room at the Sheraton (a much better hotel) which was only about 200 yards away.  Even better they told me I wouldn't have to pay the bill which, considering the outrageous £220 a night the Crowne Plaza was going to charge, was the least they could do.  Even better than that, when we checked out the next day they didn't charge me for breakfast either so my total bill was £4 for the two diet cokes we had when we arrived.  Actually £2.00 for a coke from a hotel minibar is pretty good.  I think I will stay at the Sheraton again.  The breakfast, complete with haggis and black pudding restored my equanimity somewhat.  Just as well considering the amount of shopping I had to do for Charlotte that day. 

A Salute Troop Transporter was roped in to help get all her stuff up to Edinburgh

Charlotte, cunning as ever, used the fact that I hadn't had to pay for the hotel to extract extras from me which were not on the John Lewis shopping list my wife had prepared.  "Daddy, I don't like the scratchy duvet cover they have given me!"  "Daddy, I think I need a rug!"  "Daddy, I need a clutch handbag to go with my Ted Baker dress for the fresher's James Bond party tonight and here is a Ted Baker bag that is perfect!"  Good job we get 25% discount in John Lewis.  The £220 saved was disappearing very quickly!

Returning to London I had to employ some fancy footwork to avoid being sent to run a training course in Colombia and Brazil the week after next.  Fortunately, I managed to find someone else to do it.  I need a break from long distance travel for a bit.

Really love these!

As I mentioned in a previous post I picked up some of the new Bolt Action plastic Japanese from Warlord Games.  These were not really the Japanese I had intended getting, to be honest, I was expecting to get going with some samurai for Ronin.  While watching the Tour of Spain on TV over the last couple of nights I put together five of them.  Scott, from Middle Earth, commented that he couldn't really be doing with all this plastic assembly nonsense and I have some sympathy for this view.  I reckon it took me well over an hour to put together five figures (I've since done another seven). 

There are five identical sprues of six figures which includes one kneeling and one prone one.  Unlike some people I don't mind prone or kneeling figures, especially for conflicts of the last 100 years and, in fact, I would actually prefer more prone figures for, for example, the British BEF for 1914.  Oddly, although 25mm plastic bases are provided for the standing figures there are no bases for the prone ones.  I don't usually use the supplied bases for plastic sets but am rationing myself on my usual 20mm washers which I use for skirmish figures.  Also, these are the first plastic figures I have bought where the figures don't have the usual base moulded on.  You have to stick the sole of the boot directly onto the bases.  As three figures per sprue have one foot off the ground I decided to use the plastic bases and bond them to the figures with polystyrene cement, which I also rarely use. for strength.  

Arms are separate but fit very well for plastics and there are nine head variants per sprue.  There are various bags, water bottles and such like that can be added and, again, I found these went on easily without looking at all awkward.  Usefully, the instructions identify each piece (Victrix take note) so you know the difference between the mortar bomb bag and the sub-machine gun magazine bag.  I had to have a sword waving figure amongst my first set as a nod to my Airfix armies.  I will do a bugler and a standard bearer too! The poses are rather more active than, perhaps, I would have liked but they work really well for the Japanese and their frightening charges.

My only issue is that I'm really not sure what colour to paint them.  I have ordered the Osprey but it is one of those which they print to order so it will take some time to arrive.  My trusty Blandford has the Japanese in quite a dark green which was certainly the colour I painted my 1/32 Airfix figures.  However I painted my 1/72 figures in a kahki drill.  Books I have seen seem to have them in all sorts of shades. 

Rooting through my DVD pile I found that I had bought the HBO miniseries The Pacific and put the first episode on late one night.  Big mistake, as several hours later I had watched three episodes!  It really was a tremendously well done series and the military aspect of it had obviously been meticulously researched; with the changes in the Marines uniform over time, for example, being accurately reflected.  Now, however, I am getting stressed as to whether the plastic Warlord marines will include early uncovered helmeted heads (for Guadalcanal) or will they all be the later covered helmets.  I wish I could relax about these things and just contemplate games which aren't recreations of actual battles!

My command at Thapsus

Speaking of which I managed to have an afternoon off and took part in a game of Big Red Bat's magnificent Thapsus recreation at Colours today.  I usually go to Colours on a Sunday, the second day, but it seemed particularly quiet today.  I spoke to Mike of Black Hat Miniatures and he said it had been much busier yesterday.  Maybe it will shrink to a day but, it seems, they need the second day to handle the wargames tournament games.  I did buy a a couple of steampunk things for In Her Majesty's Name from Mike which will fit very well with my planned set-up.  Disappointingly, I couldn't find any of the 4Ground Victorian buildings and apart from the IHMN scenic items all I bought were two of the factions for Ronin.  It must be my smallest wargames show haul for years.  Partly this is because I was hunting through my boxes to locate my Boot Hill Mexicans, as I have just bought an interesting, revisionist book on the Alamo.  I couldn't find them anywhere and all the exercise did was make me realise that I have far too many figures for too many periods. No more periods!  As the menopausal actress said to the Bishop.

I had a good look at the Warlord Pegasus Bridge model (which is huge!)  but  didn't photograph anything else except the Thapsus game where I was pitted against a trio of boys aged between about eight and fourteen (I would guess) who were making mincemeat of my command.  They picked up the rules far quicker than I did (needless to say).  Mr Bat's rules, which we were using, were card driven ,which made for quite a dynamic game where units could make a number of successive actions in one turn if the cards fell right.   My cards, needless to say, didn't fall right and I was reminded of the time I played strip poker with three girls from one of the women's college's rowing squads.  Hopefully, I will do better at the next attempt!  I might have had a chance to read the rules by then too!

Fortunately, I had to escape to pick up my wife from work so avoided being present at yet another tragic defeat.  Big Red Bat's armies looked magnificent and defined, for me, what a proper wargame should look like. His recreation of the Mediterranean Sea sorely lacked a galley, of course, but I have a few weeks reprieve to get it done before SELWG, which I haven't attended for more than ten years.