Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, with a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Fortifications & Stuff - Picking Up a Few Loose Threads...

For the last month there has been very little time for hobbies here. My new-found momentum on the Spaniard-painting front has stopped abruptly – fortunately I have some splendid plastic hobby boxes which enable me to put incomplete painting projects away safely, on their bottletops, organised and safe from dust and accidents – I can even store the relevant brushes and pots of paint in there if need be.

I did manage to squeeze in a solo game after Christmas, but otherwise the only hobby-related thing I’ve done is keep an eye on an eBay auction that caught my attention – I didn’t buy anything, by the way.

I thought it might be useful (for me) if I tried to follow up on a couple of threads on fortifications which are hanging over from earlier posts; it is a commonplace for me to say “I am thinking of doing such and such” – having a note in a blog post is usually an indicator that I have thought about it and intend actually to do it. Mostly these things eventually get done, but there are occasions when they disappear or get delayed indefinitely. I rarely feel it is appropriate to publicise all bad breaks, so I am aware that there are a few sub-projects which have just vanished from view. For my own benefit, I’ve been checking up on these.

Vauban Fortress

A while ago I did an update on myVauban-style fortress pieces – I had discovered that the eventual owners of the moulds and the rights for my old Terrain Warehouse fort were now Hurlbat Games, I got in touch with them and established that they might be able to make some more of the pieces for me. Sadly that has been a dead end – not only did we not get anywhere useful, but Hurlbat stopped replying to emails, so I am not sure if they have had some commercial dommage. Strike One.

ECO Vacuum-formed Castle

I still have plans to paint up my ECO castle in a less toy-like style, but I haven’t done anything about it yet. I am keen to get on with this, because it would make it less likely that the thing will just sit in a cupboard forever. Thus far, though, Strike Two.

Mediaeval Fortress pieces

In addition to my Vauban walls and bastions and so on, I have a couple of mediaeval pieces – notably a hefty gatehouse and a castle keep, both from Battleground, which maker I think is owned by Magister Militum. I bought these because it adds some flexibility to my Peninsular War siege department to be able to produce hybrid fortresses including older components.

My visit to Chester a couple of years ago to do a little study of the ECW siege there encouraged me to get some more of the Battleground pieces – these would offer all sorts of extra scope for setting up fortresses in either period. Apart from the usual personal inertia, I have been baulked a little from this idea by the fact that Magister Militum’s approach to providing photos of the ranges on their website is sometimes a little casual for my taste – I am reluctant to buy a fortress gate costing some £20 if I have never seen one, for example.

A couple of months ago there was an eBay listing which offered some pieces from this range for sale, which caught my interest, and recently there has been another, which really looked very attractive indeed – the pieces in the lot, added to my existing Battleground components, would provide the basis for a very handsome ECW walled town.

Classic eBay case-history: 10-day auction with a starting bid of around £50, so for 8 days, in the absence of any bids, I was thinking, “hmmm – good range of pieces, in crisp, nicely painted condition, at well under the list price for new unpainted equivalents – certainly worth a punt”.

Then the bidding started after 8 days, and it advanced rapidly. I went through the next stage of logic, which is something like, “I could buy brand new kit for less than this, but the paintwork is still decent value – I’ll probably have a go for these”.

And the last stage came when the bidding was now so high that it was debatable whether the painting was really good enough to justify the mark-up – the lot eventually sold for comfortably over £100, and I never placed a bid. However, what I did immediately afterwards was to order up a selection of new Battleground pieces from Magister Militum, which I shall paint myself to match my existing stuff. This also has the advantage that the choice of pieces is driven by what I actually want rather than what’s on offer.

So I think this last episode is OK – I am happy to have finally got around to buying some additional suitable fortifications – I should get them in a week or so, though I may not be able to do much with them for a little while. Building-painting is a fast and cheerful activity, though, so it might give me something useful to do in odd moments – and, if I have the Dulux pots out, I might take the opportunity to do something to smarten up the ECO castle while I’m at it – all sorts of possibilities present themselves…

One extra job I will have to carry out is to manufacture some stone-coloured wooden blocks to stand troops on – the walkways and firing platforms on the 15mm mediaeval walls are far too narrow for my 20mm basing system, so I intend to borrow a fudge from my old mate Allan Gallacher, and make some extra blocks to support the rear of the bases of units manning the walls – it looks less daft than you would think, and, since my ECW bases have magnetic sheet on the bottom, I can top the blocks with steel paper to improve stability. That is down the road a bit, but I am at least thinking ahead!


  1. I'm with you on the use of Really Useful Boxes for W-I-P. I suppose the clue's in their name.
    Have enjoyed your blogging this past few months (I only discovered it last year). Many thanks.

  2. Hmmm. Might steal that blocks idea.