A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that


Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Hooptedoodle #335 - Me and the Bird Man...


Another Hooptedoodle - three on the bounce is normally a sign of something or other. On this occasion, it's because life is a little upside-down at the moment with my son's school exams - not a great deal of upheaval for me, since the Contesse is doing the organising and transport, but I have had a few days on my own at home. I've taken the opportunity to make decent progress with prepping more soldiers for the French Refurb, but I am reluctant to post yet more photos of bare-metal Les Higgins figures and the pervading mess. I could, of course, just keep quiet for a few days, but that could set a very dangerous precedent.

Yesterday I was reading about an incident I saw - or at which I was present, I suppose - when I was a small boy. On Whit Monday, May 21st 1956, I was taken by "Uncle" Duggie - a family friend - to the air show at Speke. Duggie was a Liverpool police officer, he was ex-RAF (he had been a middleweight boxing champion in the RAF) and he had more brass neck than you would believe, so he was an ideal man for taking you around - he seemed to know just about everybody, and he was quite happy to walk into areas which were supposed to be off-limits to the public.


Valentin demonstrating some of his later wings, suspended from a scaffold. If anyone thinks this looks like a bad idea, please put up your hand. [This set-up was a pose for photos, one of which subsequently appeared on the cover of his book]
It was a lovely, hot day. The place was packed. One big attraction was the scheduled appearance of the French Bird Man, Leo Valentin, who was to fly with strapped-on wings for our entertainment. Not much happened in those days - not like this. The events of that day, I learn, were also remembered by other, eventually more famous Liverpool kids than me - George Harrison and Paul McCartney were there (at that time they both lived in the new council housing estate at Speke, close to the airport), as was Clive Barker, the sci-fi writer and film-maker. Of course they were. There were 100,000 people there - anyone who could get there was bound to have been there - a big family holiday-out for the whole city. I was a very timid child, and was very worried about the Bird Man, and some of the planes were a tad noisy, and I didn't care for big crowds - so it wasn't such a perfect day for me, maybe!

Liverpool airport is at Speke, which then was outside the south end of the city. I remember being parched with thirst - no-one carried water in those days, for some reason, and queuing for a cup of industrial tea didn't seem such a great idea. I also remember that it was very hard to see much. If you were a small person, it wasn't a straightforward matter to see the sky between the adults. Valentin's flight was delayed - when he eventually made an attempt it was in a period when the crowd had started to wander around the airfield, and the events, which certainly did not last long, almost appeared incidental - many of those present must actually have been unaware of it. Valentin's approach run (with a new, larger style of wing, ferried up in a DC3) was pretty much unnoticeable (we couldn't hear the commentator anyway), his exit from the plane went wrong, he damaged one of his wings in the doorway, and I got a very brief glimpse (between adults) of Valentin, wrapped in his parachute, falling to the ground, maybe a mile away. There was a bit of a collective gasp, but a great many people around me never noticed.

A strange atmosphere fell over the place. It was one of those "nothing to see here, move along please" moments - the organisers obviously had to allow a slight gap for emergency reaction, but the show must go on. It was only when I got home (via the 82 bus) that I realised what had happened. I had simply assumed that Valentin wasn't flying today. In fact his emergency chute had failed, and he'd fallen 9000 feet into a cornfield, at Halewood. He was, of course, as dead as a door-nail. For some reason the local paper made a big fuss about the fact that his watch was still working. Someone missed an advertising opportunity there. Here's a nice little, rather homespun, video clip, to which I link with humble thanks and no permission.


Valentin had been a war hero, and was given a fancy military funeral in France - none of this reached the UK press. As far as I was concerned, he was really just another example of a common phenomenon of the times - you queued for hours to see something, and then nothing happened. Well, not for me - obviously things must have been a bit intense for him.

I believe this is the actual Beverley, at actual Speke, on the actual day [actually]. I am not on board - not bloody likely.
At some point in the afternoon Uncle Duggie got us past a rope barrier to look at a Blackburn Beverley and chat with its pilot - a friend of his from the RAF. Although the official record of the show says that the Beverley was a "no-show", I can confirm that it was very much there, and it did perform a fly-past later, with Duggie's pal at the controls. Duggie had managed to negotiate a look inside the thing, and asked me did I want to have a look around it - not flying in it, you understand, just having a peek, which wasn't allowed either. Since my timidity would not allow me to do anything which was not permitted, and since claustrophobia was another problem to add to my aforementioned list, I declined. I am ashamed to say that I turned down the opportunity to look around a newly-commissioned RAF Beverley, in 1956. Sorry, gentlemen. Sometimes I wonder how I ever survived this big, tough world. Sometimes I think that if I had a time machine I would go back and give myself a kick up the backside.

When there was no airshow, the spectator gallery on the roof at Speke was quite a popular attraction. I went a couple of times - it was very windy up there, and there weren't many planes to look at, I can tell you. What a miserable beggar I was!
Speke airport is now known as Liverpool John Lennon Airport. It always strikes me as ironic that Lennon himself only had a very brief involvement with the airport as a youth, when he was (I think) fired from temporary employment as a gopher in the cafe, for having a generally unhelpful attitude and making a deliberately unsavoury job of the sandwiches. That's how you go about getting an airport named after you. Charles de Gaulle had to work a bit harder for his airport, maybe.   

Saturday, 25 May 2019

Hooptedoodle #334 - Local Research to Get One's Teeth Into


High-profile local advertising - Barker & Dobson advert on the Liverpool Overhead Railway, mid 1950s. B&D's factory was just a few miles up the hill, in Everton
I was born in Liverpool, as I keep mentioning here (possibly as some form of excuse?), and grew up supporting Liverpool Football Club. The other big club in the city, Everton, also has a long and proud tradition. Since as a kid I spent some years forbidden to travel to away matches, I often used to go with similarly paroled friends to Goodison Park, to watch Everton when Liverpool were playing in far off places.





Nowadays, in the age of hate and trolling, the Liverpool vs Everton thing can be as unpleasant as you might expect - families banned from intermarrying etc - but in my youth things were a bit less frenzied, and I grew up with a soft spot for Everton which I might be well advised to keep quiet about now.


Everton FC - 1909
Everton, as you may or may not know, have been known as "The Toffees" since what my dad's cousin Harold Shaw used to refer to as "time immoral". Like all such traditions that we absorb in early childhood, I never questioned it or wondered about its background.

A bit of cod [personal] history. There were an astonishing number of sweet factories in Liverpool. Now I think about it, this is obviously because, as the headquarters of Tate & Lyle, Liverpool was the place through which most of the cane sugar from the Caribbean arrived in Britain. If it hadn't been for post-war rationing, we'd all have had no teeth.

Another fact which has only dawned on me gradually is that many of the makers of sweets I was familiar with as a kid were Liverpool-based. This is not just because they were local firms who had a grip on the market - a number of them were nationally famous, and they just happened to have their factories in the city.

I got involved over the last couple of weeks in a pleasant exchange of email reminiscences about vintage sweets. I did a bit of gentle research to find out what happened to such-and-such a maker, and mostly I learned that the history of  the UK sweet industry is pretty alarming - a lot of hostile takeovers - and very complicated. I also learned something, at long last, about why Everton FC are the Toffees.





I've always been familiar with Everton Mints, which were a hard, black-and-white, humbug-like boiled sweet with a toffee centre, manufactured by Barker & Dobson, whose factory was in Everton. B&D, founded in 1834, were big and successful - they made chocolates and posh biscuits and all sorts - in fact their gift tins still change hands for decent prices in eBay. It's possible I always assumed that the football club's nickname had something to do with B&D.


B&D factory - Everton, 1960s
The height of sophistication - B&D ad from the 1920s - apparently the lovely lady has a weakness for "Viking" chocolates [made with raw fish?]. As the copy line states, "Nowadays it's Barker & Dobson's chocolate". Don't laugh, somebody probably got a bonus for that one.
...and, of course, since toffee was trendy, they would work to cater for the latest advances in home entertainment. Here we see a tin commemorating how Mr & Mrs Cavity and their children would sit around the steam radio, enjoying light entertainment and chewing ferociously. [A sub-plot of selection boxes of toffee was that I always finished up with the walnut toffee, or the mint one, both of which were grim.]
...and, as time passed, B&D were always there, at the cutting edge. Now we have the Gummy family enjoying TV, slurping away on toffees "and other specialities". Mr Gummy, as you see, smokes his pipe while eating toffee, which is pretty disgusting really.
Anyway, it didn't. A lady named Molly Bushell (1748-1818) started making toffee containing ginger on an open-air stove behind her cottage in Everton, sometime around 1770, and she became quite successful. At this time, Everton village was something of a tourist attraction, with splendid views of the river from the slopes of Everton Hill. As the business grew, Molly was helped by her daughter, and also by a cousin, Sarah Cooper. In later life, she appears to have fallen out with Mrs Cooper, who opened a rival shop in Browside (also Everton). Much later, the remaining interests of these cottage businesses were taken over by the firm of Noblett's, who from 1876 or so took over the manufacture and marketing of Everton Toffee. Everton FC came into being in 1878, and the sale of toffees at the games quickly became a tradition, vendors offering "Mother Noblett's Toffee" inside the ground.

Sarah Cooper's toffee shop in Browside - note Everton reserves training in the sloping field opposite
Mother Noblett's Toffee advert - Liverpool Echo
Noblett's Toffee Shop - they had a shop in London Rd, and this one at 30 Old Haymarket. According to my Gore's Directory for 1900, the shop to the left of "Leonard Noblett, confectioner" is (or had been) John & T Edwards, wholesale grocers; on the other corner of Albion Place is Lipton's, the famous tea importers and blenders. I would guess this photo must be approximately contemporary with the 1909 football team picture. Old Haymarket was pretty much laid waste to make room for the entrance to the new Mersey Road Tunnel, which was started in 1925.
Tavener-Routledge were another famous Liverpool sweet maker - their fruit drops were much loved. They too have disappeared. So - where did they go?

The other lot - Liverpool players Ian Callaghan, Phil Thompson, Terry McDermott and John Toshack check out the lollipops during a state visit to Taverner's factory in Edge Lane - 1970s
Very complicated - a succession of local dinosaurs ate each other until big national dinosaurs came on the scene and ate everybody in sight. Barker & Dobson at various times owned the rights to Vicks (cough sweets?) and Victory V lozenges (which were addictive, since the recipe contained chloroform - no, really - which had to be changed, of course). B&D were subsequently bought by a Blackpool firm named Tangerine (not another football reference?), and later the whole lot was bought out by Bassett's.

When I was at university, I shared digs for a while with a guy who was addicted to these things. He used to get through a pack in an evening, which made him a dangerous man to be near. He lived to become a chemistry professor, but frankly it's a wonder he never exploded.
You can still buy Everton Mints - these days they are branded as Bassett's, but I don't think this is quite the same Bassett's who used to make Liquorice Allsorts and jelly babies in my youth. Bassett's now is just one of a series of long-established brands acquired by the Cadbury group. They are most certainly not in Everton!

Only thing I don't understand now is that there seems to have been a brand of toffee called "Molly Bushell's" marketed in Australia in fairly recent times. If this is nonsense, and something I misunderstood, then apologies - it won't be the first time. 

Just a coincidence? Was Molly transported to Oz for damaging people's teeth? Any ideas?



Friday, 24 May 2019

Hooptedoodle #333 - Fake News

I thought it would be best to put this note out now, to avoid any baseless rumours.


I have come under some pressure recently to put myself forward as a prospective leader of the Conservative Party - it was even suggested that it might be expected of me. I have thought about it long and hard for at least seven minutes, and I regret to say that I shall not be doing this; I do not wish to disappoint anyone, but I think it is only right and proper to be straightforward about the matter.

(1) I have become alarmed at what I can only see as falling standards of behaviour in the House of Commons. I have to assume that the emergence of a reality-TV celebrity as President of the US has triggered an appetite for the proceedings of the British Parliament to be converted into a reality-TV show in its own right. Whatever, I feel I might find the working environment to be insufficiently dignified. Call me old-fashioned if you wish.

(2) I fear that my Thursday bridge evenings would cause something of a clash with the requirements of the job, and I could not live with myself if I did not give the thing my full attention.

(3) The timescale is very short - there is not enough time for a proper lobotomy, even a private one.

(4) I have some difficulty with the idea that the internal squabbles of the Party are somehow more important than the fate of the nation. I accept that the problem appears to be my own, but, again, I would find this a distraction.

Thus - with all due thanks and sincere appreciation to those who have encouraged me to stand for election, I confirm that I shall not be doing so. I am confident that whoever does get the job will do at least as well in the role as I could have done, so I extend to them my best wishes.

If anyone feels the wish to suggest some suitable candidates, I would be delighted to hear from them.   

Sunday, 19 May 2019

French Refurb Project - Yet Another Sanity Check on Scales

I have had some problems getting hold of command figures - especially drummers - to plug the gaps in my refurbished French infantry units. Once again, I find myself trawling around ancient blog posts and forum threads, reading old debates about whether figures from Maker A are compatible with those from Maker B. My perception is complicated somewhat by the fact that individual models from the same manufacturer can vary a bit in scale, by the fact that I frequently disagree with the views expressed in the discussions and by the fact that I tend to forget whatever it was I decided last time.

Round and round we go. I had a couple of email exchanges recently which suggested that, despite my previous investigations, Newline might be OK with Hinton Hunt/Der Kriegsspieler-sized troops after all - especially since I could claim that the drummers were mere lads. I have found old discussions in which some worthy swore blind that Newline were a good match with HaT plastics, and they used them all the time, and so on.

My armies are (unofficially) 20mm or "true" 25mm (an old-fashioned term which is no more helpful than more recent ones). I look for figures which are 21 to 23mm soles to eye, which have hats and equipment which look about  the same - thus 1/72 should fit nicely, though some 1/72 figures don't seem right to me in this context. The important thing is that I should think they look correct - it is my game, after all.

Anyway, I thought I would go around this loop again, and I ordered in some Newline samples (last time was maybe 6 years ago, I think), to see if I have changed my mind, or if recent developments with the Higgs boson particle have somehow changed the size of the millimetre.

Once again, I have produced one of my occasional strange green photos, just to give myself some evidence next time I become confused about this, and to confirm the Groundhog Day nature of these continuing investigations.


You will observe that Newline are quite a bit smaller than all the other figures illustrated. Apart from Newline, these figures all group nicely around the 22-23mm soles-to-eyes mark (the little squares on the cutting mat are 5mm) - the Newlines are a lot smaller. I might just about persuade myself that a very small Newline drummer boy might fit with my Der Kriegsspieler repaints (which, though not included, are the same as Hinton Hunt), but I might have to be pretty desperate to believe it.

So - in case I forget again - here you have it. Newline figures are too small for my armies, though of course they would be perfectly lovely in someone else's Newline army. Oh - and the Hat soldier has a small head. Just saying.

Sunday, 12 May 2019

Bavarians - Quick Succession

Yesterday I finished off a second Bavarian artillery unit, within a day or so of the first - clearly Bavarian artillery batteries, in the time-honoured traditions of the No.27 bus, travel around in widely-spaced pairs.

Kennington gunners, Franznap guns - Hauptmann Peters' battery
All ready to keep the Austrians off our terrace
Extra picture, included for anyone who is enthusiastic about waste-management systems
I'm pleased with this. This is a battery of Fuss-Artillerie, that of Hauptmann Peters, according to my official OOB, and they are equipped with a 12pdr and a howitzer. The figure castings are Kennington, and instantly recognisable as such, and the ordnance, as with the previous unit, are splendid little pieces by Franznap - correct Manson pattern and everything. I painted these chaps myself, as you may be able to tell (!). Kennington figures are businesslike and cheerful - this lot show a good attitude, though I am not sure about the officer. It could be that he is disappointed to find that he has been drafted into the artillery, since he had been intended for the infantry for a while, but he looks rugged enough. What's all this shouldered-sabre stuff, though? Is he intending to add some emphasis to his commands to the gunners, is he just posturing, or is he preparing for the enemy cavalry to come too close for canister shot?

In passing, I have read recently that Peter at SHQ, who sadly has some major health problems, is proposing to cut down his activities to concentrate on the core WW2 ranges, so the 20mm Kennington Napoleonics and ECW figures will be looking for a new owner. I certainly hope that goes well. Kennington figures are rather taken for granted, and seldom eulogised, in my experience, but they are good little sculpts, for the most part, they are cheaply and readily available (they have been absolutely invaluable to me in my constant search for 20mm figures over the last 15 years or so) and Peter and his colleagues offer a quick, friendly service. If they become unavailable - and I certainly hope they do not - I think we would (yet again) come to realise what we have lost. A familiar story?

Topic 2 - adventures with highwaymen

This one may ramble about a bit. Recently, Prof De Vries noted my references to Bob the Postie (our mailman), and wondered what had happened to Jamie the Postie - was he all right? Had he moved on to better things?

That's easily answered. Bob the Postie is, in fact, one and the same bloke as Jamie; he now wishes to be called Bob. No idea why - none of my business - perhaps his name is Jamie-Bob - who knows? We have known Bob for a long time now - when we first knew him (as Jamie) he must have been about 20, I guess. He did once blot his copybook by crashing into my wife's car, but that was a long time ago now, and we are friends again. He is cheerful, and reliable, and a good guy to have on our side.

Yesterday lunchtime I did remarkably well on the mailing front. The Bold Bob brought me packages from Uncle Tony Barr at ERM (who had performed heroics, despite the flu, in making me some custom-sized MDF bases, cut from his last-ever sheet of 3mm) and from Wonderland (the Edinburgh model-shop, who got some paint to me within 12 hours of my having ordered it online). The direct result of this fine service is that I managed to complete the Bavarian battery featured in the first part of this post. Really can't complain at all about that.

Less happily, I now realise that my shipment of posh new paint brushes from Cass Art has been committed to the tender mercies of Hermes, the infamous courier. Every day I am invited to refer to the continuing online tracking record for my parcel, which is, as usual, bullshit.

Let me say right away that I realise that the individual delivery drivers who work for Hermes are all self-employed, and the job must be a nightmare, so I am not completely unsympathetic, but our situation here does not lend itself well to operators like Hermes. I live on a farm, in a rural area. In the time it takes to drive a couple of miles out here with my single parcel, the driver can earn far more by delivering a cluster of packages to a larger village, so we tend to get bounced off the end of the day's job list.

Cass Art were prompt, and courteous, and informed me very quickly and correctly when they sent my order out. The downside is the appearance of the word "Hermes" in the detail. Hermes offer a comprehensive tracking service, and their drivers are equipped with a terminal (smart phone?) so they can update the records in real time. Out here in the sticks, that is just an irritant. There is much reference to "attempted delivery", or to people not being at home. On occasions we have stayed in specially to receive a parcel - often, I suspect, the driver has no intention whatsoever of coming around here, he simply enters junk into the system to keep the courier firm off his back. Our current record is about 1 week elapsed, when Hermes promised (and failed) every day to deliver some clothes my wife purchased from a well-known online shop (no - not that one). Every day there was a new line added to the story, and all of it was untrue.

A work of fiction - this is the eBook version, of course. The driver has never been near my house, nor has he had any such intention, I guess
Of course, this is not really a big problem at all. If Cass Art had said to me "we'll try to get your parcel to you sometime next week" I wouldn't have batted an eyelid, but if someone from Hermes tells me a lie every day about how he has bravely been defeated in his attempt to reach my house, or how I failed to be in (although I have supplied safe-place instructions to the seller and I can see the complete length of the lane from the Real World from my windows) then that is just silly. We never see the Hermes drivers, by the way. If and when they ever get as far as our door, by the time we answer the doorbell the driver is gone - there is just a package on the doorstep. They can't spare the time.

This means, of course, that if we happen to be on holiday in Florida and it is monsoon season here, my parcel of (say) expensive books will lie there undisturbed, unless Bob the Postie very kindly puts it safely in the woodshed.

The pros and cons of the "gig" economy. Discuss.

 


Thursday, 9 May 2019

Bavarians - Light Artillery

Thanks to some splendid paintwork, very kindly carried out by Count Goya, the first artillery presence in my Bavarian 3rd Division is now ready for action. This is a battery of Leichte Artillerie, commanded, I believe, by Hauptmann Tausch.

The figure castings are by Franznap, as are the guns, which are Manson pattern 6pdrs (the gun masters were produced by 3D printing, I understand).


Some foot artillery are also coming along - currently they're on the bottletops. After them, I have to complete a regiment of dragoons and add a few staff and that is the 3rd Division complete - limber teams and a Wurstwagen will follow on after a respectable interval.

Monday, 6 May 2019

A Fool and His Money - a Brush with Disaster

Since I was getting some hobby-type odds and ends from Amazon, it seemed a reasonable idea to get some cheapo brushes while I was at it. A lot of my brushes are coming to the end of their useful careers, so it does no harm to stock up a bit.

I've moaned about this before, but I have a very frustrating personal history with brushes. On occasions I have treated myself to something really expensive, and have usually been disappointed. Some of the best brushes I ever had were second-quality bin ends from Hobbycraft - very unpredictable. Eventually I get to a position where I have a jam jar full of scruffy wrecks, plus a couple of remaining brushes that will still form a decent point, and then one night I lose a bristle or two, and things start to get a bit tense!

I've been reading some forum or other where the dudes were discussing which budget-priced modelling brushes in the UK were good, reliable value for money. Based on this, I added a couple of packs of Humbrol Palpo brushes to my Amazon order. Sable hair, one each of sizes 000, 0, 2 and 4, about £8.50 or so for a pack of 4 brushes.
Old, scruffy brushes are always a nuisance, right? The joke is that these are the new, unused ones - admittedly before I tried to train and clean them a bit - but they were no better afterwards
Humbrol "Palpo" brushes, made in China - marketed by Hornby Hobbies (once of Binns Road, Liverpool). Unspeakable rubbish
A last look. It would be infantile to put them straight in the bucket, but this evening I have been painting with my old brushes. I can feel the donkey's ears growing out of my head
They arrived. I think the only relevant word I can think of is "crap". I've had a go with very hot water and the posh brush cleaner, and the only difference is they are probably slightly cleaner crap now.

Very uneven mixture of bristles, trimmed to length with a hatchet, apparently, lumps of dressing on the ends of the tufts. No likelihood of a passable point. I am disgusted.

Don't ever be tempted to buy any of these, chaps.

***** Late Edit *****

This follows on from some of the comments. Here are a couple of real veterans. When I was clearing out my parents' house, a few years ago, I came across a lot of my father's old painting equipment. Back in the 1970s he did a lot of hobby painting. He was a very fair watercolourist - a bit photographic for my taste, but pretty good in a draughtsman-like way. He also tried his hand at oils. I found masses of spoiled tubes of paint, and a lot of old brushes. Most of the brushes disintegrated when I checked them - the hair had perished and broken. Amazingly, though, some of them were OK.


I found quite a few of these - they had been used, but not much, so I acquired them for my soldier painting. These are Winsor & Newton, as you see (I've included one side of each brush in the picture - they were all marked like this on the two sides. They are also, I'm faintly embarrassed to observe, stamped by HM Stationery Office in 1966, so I guess my dad liberated them from the office stores when he worked for HM Government.  

The big fellow is worn down - evidence of my dry-brushing resin thatched roofs? The No.1 has probably slimmed down a bit, but is still one of my in-use brushes. Now, I'm not saying these have been used continuously since 1966 - clearly that's not so - but they have been used regularly by me in the last couple of years and there is no sign of degradation of the sable since manufacture 53 years ago.

Interesting?

********************

Saturday, 4 May 2019

French Refurb Project - Getting Organised

The bewildering thing about a big refurb project is that every time I look in a known box of figures I find when I count them that the number is not what I thought it was last time. On occasions, this is because a new box has materialised somewhere else - one which I have forgotten about. It is possible for the effort of trying to keep track of what I'm doing to become so great that it leaves little time or energy for doing whatever it was I was supposed to be doing.

Enough.

The refurb figures which are painted and finished are now properly mounted on magnetised bases, and everything is logged on a proper spreadsheet. If I leave gaps on the bases where the figures are missing, or still being painted, then I can see at a glance where I'm up to. Another (cunning) advantage of this approach is that if on a short evening I decide to paint half-a-dozen figures, I can plan exactly where they will go, which is a considerable help with stuff like company pompom colours - not to mention motivation.

When a unit is actually complete, I finish off the bases, supply an official 110mm x 110 sabot, give 'em a flag, and they move from the box-files to The Cupboard, ready for warfare. Snapshots of this morning's state show two box-files in use - one for the Hinton Hunt and Der Kriegsspieler battalions and one for the Les Higgins battalions. The figures are not incompatible, but I keep them separate for historic reasons which are a bit dim and distant now.

Higginses on the left, HH/DK on the right. The big brown areas are where I've got masses of rank-&-file on bottletops in a big Really Useful Box, being worked on; the smaller brown areas are usually because I'm missing a command figure or a flanker (which may, of course, be on a bottletop as well) - there is a general shortage of drummers for the HH/DK units at present - I'm hoping to make use of some Schilling castings to plug the gaps.
And here are the boxes the other way up, so you can see I have nothing up my sleeve. A lot of the DK figures are ex-Steve Cooney. The furthest-away columns in the left hand box are ex-Eric Knowles Hinton Hunts - waiting only for drummers - I believe I have some proper HH drummers lined up for these. Nerds with exceptional eyesight may detect some HaT plastic eagle-bearers in the right-hand box. That's how desperate things have become in the world of 20mm French light infantry. It's OK. Everything is beautiful in its own way.
In addition to this lot, the recently-arrived Freitag Battalion flashed through to completion without loitering in the boxes, so that's already in The Cupboard. I have two further battalions away in foreign parts, being worked on, I have two battalions of Higgins figures on my own bottletops, being retouched in the evenings, I have three Higgins light infantry battalions waiting to be started (though they look pretty good to start with, so that might not be a big job - put your hand up if you've heard this song before), and a further Higgins battalion which is currently scheduled to be retouched as the 3eme Suisse, though I may have a change of heart and transfer them into the French army (which would involve stripping and repainting from scratch). Then there is a mass of DK figures - also on bottletops, which are in the current queue. I also have some (small) shipments of command figures coming from Art Miniaturen and Old John, plus a trial pack from Newline, to see if I can live with undersized drummer boys. And I have some command figures at a painter.

Yo.

After that, I am hoping to slow right down on the French army. I have Higgins figures for yet another light battalion (though no command at present) and also for a battalion of Young Guard voltigeurs (same situation). I am going to have to train myself to stop buying old figures I don't really need. What happens is that the planned army establishment gets a hike to accommodate the extra figures, and it all justifies itself. So all I have to do is stop.

Easy. What could go wrong?

Anyway, organisation is the key at the moment.