|Sorting out the MDF bases - first find them all, then sort them, then count...|
I’ve become very used to my laser-cut MDF bases now. There was a time when I would happily cut up my own bases with the trusty Stanley knife and a steel ruler, and I still do this (obviously) for any odd sizes that I need, but – however hard I try – the home-cut ones look scruffy next to the bought-in laser jobs.
As part of this move towards decent bases over recent years, I made a valiant attempt to standardise on my base sizes, to limit the confusion and make stock control easier. I’ve mentioned my base sizes before – it probably wasn’t interesting then, either, so I’ll assume I’m safe to mention them again!
When I think about it, my Napoleonic frontages come from old WRG rules. I can’t remember which rules, or which edition, but 15mm per figure for close-order infantry, 25mm for heavy cavalry and 30mm for light cavalry became rooted in tradition here, and – for obvious reasons – once the base size has been in force for a while, as long as it works OK, it’s not a great idea to change your mind about it.
So I have made a conscious effort to go for a small number of standard base sizes. I won’t go on at great length about this, but there is always a subtle pressure towards increasing the number of sizes – just one more new standard…
I use large numbers of the following (all measured in mm wide x mm deep):
50 x 45 line infantry (2 rows of 3 men) and heavy cavalry (2 figs wide)
60 x 45 light cavalry (2 wide)
25 x 45 single heavy cavalry figures
30 x 45 single light cavalry figures, also generals & staff
and then there’s
80 x 25 infantry skirmishers (open-order line of 3)
80 x 20 alternative skirmisher bases – used in mixed order units
60 x 80 field gun + crew (2 guns to a battery)
and then there are standard sizes for different kinds of unit sabots, and bases for artillery limbers, caissons, wagons, mule trains – and this is where the number of variants keeps increasing. When I started collecting siege guns and equipment, some new, more compact sizes appeared, to keep the footprint down, and because the siege pieces have smaller crews. I’m currently preparing some guns for the French Peninsular War siege train – there will be 3 batteries of 24 pdrs, 2 of howitzers and 2 (maybe 3) of mortars – I am reminded that for the big siege guns I use a base of 45 x 90, and for the mortars (apparently) I have adopted 45 x 65, which is an odd size but seems to be a bit more roomy than the existing 60 x 45. I conducted a proper stocktaking exercise (the first part of which was identifying the 4 separate boxes which contained random mixtures of fresh bases). I’m proud to say that I have now an official note of how many of each size I have and need, so an order will be going out today. I have promised myself that I am going to keep the spare bases in properly labelled boxes, so stock control will be much easier [what do you think? – do you think I’ll keep it better organised in future? – no?...].
I’m going to be working on the French siege stuff for a while – I have lots of gunners to paint up and everything. I’ll put some pictures up as and when items are finished.
For a while I had a brilliant idea that a French siege train, with appropriately nondescript colouring of the equipment, could also serve as a Spanish one, since the artillery uniforms are very similar. When I thought further about it, though, I couldn’t remember the Spanish army actually besieging anything, so this might not be a very high priority. [Please don't anyone mention Frank Sinatra and Sophia Loren.]
Over the next few nights I will be putting together 20mm scale cannon kits, so I will get a chance to try out my new superglue accelerator. This should be an exciting advance, you would think, but I find I am mostly apprehensive. Of what? I’m not sure – I think I must be worried that the accelerator will not work; I find these little disappointments loom larger as I get older…
This post is quite long enough, but I realise that I have not mentioned my ECW basing system, which is different. Only comment I might make is that I cunningly adopted 60mm square bases for both foot and horse, and this has been a great success, except that sometimes, when I am being especially honest with myself, I wish I had chosen 55mm square, which would have fitted my hex-grid tabletop just a bit better. No matter – everything is fine. I promise I am not changing anything.