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

Friday 28 June 2019

Storage Wars - Boxed Bavarians

Deroy's Division on the move
One of the great truths of the world is that painted soldiers take up a lot less space than soldiers which are being painted, or which are about to be painted. In the chaos presented by my current situation, which I refer to as "getting there", my inner OCD keeps a little vision of how it should work out...

When the Spanish Army is finished, when the missing Portuguese Brigade is finished, when a number of other incomplete projects are finished, I'll have a lot fewer Very Useful Boxes containing unpainted units sorted into freezer packs, a lot fewer cardboard boxes full of things still to be promoted to labelled freezer packs (or, ultimately, disposed of). My main "showcase" storage unit (which is a laugh, since no-one can see into it unless they open the doors), known here as The Cupboard, will correctly contain the Napoleonic French and Anglo-Portuguese armies (minus the artillery, logistics vehicles and staff, since they won't fit), and everything else will be stored in an orderly manner in magnetised A4 boxfiles.

I'll have a lot more space - it will work - I will be able to find things - I have the spreadsheets to prove it...

This is not entirely down to my becoming more peculiar as I age, though a big driver is the ease with which I am able lose entire regiments - for a recent battle, I dug my heels in and refused to give up on searching for a French general in a carriage - it took about an hour, but eventually I found him in a boxfile labelled Mules & Carts - that's not too good, is it? Happy ending, and he got to be Massena for the day, but things have to become more organised. He should really have been in French Staff & Odd-Bods, obviously, but that is now full, and waiting for French Staff & Odd-Bods (2) to be commissioned.

The current (ongoing) expansion of my French army means that The Cupboard has to be cleared of anything that shouldn't really be in there - the buildings have mostly gone, the strange little wooden trays of things that came from eBay and are still being thought about are in the process of being relocated. Yesterday's big step was to re-house my Bavarians into official boxfiles. That has always been the plan really, but I'm kind of sorry to see them move - I've got used to seeing them lined up on the bottom shelf, but they have to shift so that Ferey's Division and Taupin's Division and the new Guard Division can be accommodated properly in their rightful place.

Anyway, they'll be happier in their new home. I thought someone might enjoy the sight of a couple of boxes of Bavarians - the dragoons and three brigade commanders are still be be painted, but it is evident that a Bavarian division fits neatly into two A4 boxes. That's rather satisfying. A Bavarian division, in passing, is a nicely-sized and balanced force for a wargame, it seems to me. This morning's extra task will be to replace the household's labelling machine, which finally died of exhaustion...

Tuesday 25 June 2019

Reining in My Enthusiasm - Whinge of the Day

I was checking out my painting queue, and - inevitably - I came back to a pile of mounted figures which are stuck until I find out how to assemble them. These figures are mostly (though not all) from Hagen Miniatures, and they are splendid little figures, but they are all the work of the demon sculptor, Massimo, who likes to produce his horses without reins.

Here's an example - this is part of a very nice set of French general staff - you can get these from Hagen. Obviously, you simply have to fit reins, running from the bridle bit, round the rider's hand(s), draped artistically, depending on the action. What could be easier?

Well, my problem is that I cannot find a method of fitting reins to the horses which works for me - I've had so many harrowing episodes trying to solve this that I have now developed something of a phobia about it - I have managed to fit about 3 horses with reins successfully over a 3 year period, and there have been a lot more than 3 failures. In my project boxes, waiting to be assembled, I have 40 Spanish cavalry, 20 Portuguese cavalry, 10 French cavalry and about 30 or 40 assorted staff and celebrity figures, and none of these is going to make any progress at all until I understand what to do about it.

I have tried fuse-wire of various thicknesses (a couple of successes, but it is a nightmare to bend to shape, and won't take a sharp curve), cotton thread (a recommendation from Hagen - it sort of works, but it's hairy, man!), copper wire, aluminium wire (assorted thicknesses from 0.56mm to 1mm), lead foil from wine bottles, nylon fishing line (2 thicknesses)...

This should be a reasonable thing to achieve, I'm hardly a craftsman, but I have many years experience of hacking figures about, drilling, reshaping - my regular re-heading jobs in 20mm have caused my wife some unease for a while now. This reins issue has me flummoxed, and no mistake.

Any sensible or wise suggestions as to how I may shape up and get on with this? All help would be most welcome. Solutions involving superglue just cause an exasperating mess - even with the official accelerator, the bloody stuff is hopeless.

I've even had a look at some online sites which describe how to tie fishing flies, which I thought might be useful, for techniques and materials, but this is getting well away from the topic. Anyone done this? A few kind words could change things quite a bit...!

Topic #2 - a Painting Story

I'm currently painting batches of Les Higgins French infantry - I've been lucky enough to get some welcome assistance with painting lately, but this work will be ongoing for a while yet. I was reminded of another occasion - many years ago - when I was painting Les Higgins Frenchmen, which makes me wonder whether my life has progressed at quite the rate it should have, but no matter.

This story is set in a flat I once had in the Marchmont area of Edinburgh, which must date it pretty accurately to about 1974, I guess. I had a phone call from my friend Allan, who was a regular wargaming opponent and buddy at  that time. This was on a Friday, when I was at work. Allan was expecting a visit from an old pal, and was going out drinking with him on Saturday evening - if I was up for it, they would call for me and we could go up to Chic Murray's at Bruntsfield Links.

Fine - I was up for that. Saturday came and went, and no-one called and no-one rang. That's OK - I've been stood up before. On Sunday afternoon I was finishing off some wargames figures (the aforementioned Higginses) when the doorbell rang. It was Allan, with his friend Lammy.

Lammy was originally an Edinburgh man, but Allan had met him in Zimbabwe some years before. He now lived in Gibraltar (I think), and was back in Edinburgh for his mother's funeral. [His name, I should explain, was Lawrence, but he was called Lammy as a reference to a long-forgotten kids' radio programme called "Larry the Lamb" - I could tell you wanted to know this.]

Lammy was a bit loud for me - drink had obviously been taken already, and he was definitely a tad bumptious.

"Ah - painting...!" he roared, and he sat down at my painting desk, switched on my old Anglepoise lamp and produced a folding magnifying glass from his pocket - he began to study my paintwork.

I wasn't very comfortable with this at all - my painting was probably effective enough from the opposite side of the table, preferably in very dim light, but I was not happy at the prospect of a serious review. Allan explained that Lammy was a very keen figure painter, and regularly organised and judged painting competitions at his club in Gibraltar (or wherever it was). That didn't make me any more relaxed at all, especially when Lammy began to announce his findings...

"Hmmm....  Aha!...   Hmmm... Gosh..." and then, more alarmingly, "Oh dear...."

"I take it this is a line regiment?" Lammy directed his question at Allan, who nodded to me, with his eyebrows raised. I realised that I must still be there, after all.

"Yes," I said, "they are the 76e Ligne, they are intended for the Peninsular War in about 1811."

Lammy was delighted - he tipped his head and looked at me sideways, like Hercule Poirot making an accusation. If he'd had a moustache he'd have twirled it.

"You realise, of course, that only Guard regiments had brass fittings on their muskets? The line had steel, so this is incorrect. Why did you paint brass fittings...?"

I was getting a bit hot and bothered at this point, but Allan cut in, very smoothly.

"No, it is not incorrect. The 76th Line had been on service in Martinique, as you will probably be aware, and my guess is that Tony has assumed, very reasonably, that they will have brought their muskets back with them. Of course, the muskets issued for colonial service were of superior quality and had brass fittings, like the Guard's."

"Erm - oh yes, of course..." said Lammy, and he excused himself to visit the toilet before we went up to Chic Murray's.

I was very impressed, and said to Allan, "How did you know that stuff about the French colonial service? - I just thought all the muskets had brass."

"I know next to nothing about French muskets," said Allan, "but I can bullshit with the best of them. Lammy is a very indifferent painter, to be blunt about it, and not much of an expert, so just nod and say yes when it seems appropriate. It'll be fine."

Edinburgh drinking-places of the 1970s - this was a good one - lots of after-hours darts matches, and they had a fantastic mynah bird that used to swear at the customers...

Sunday 23 June 2019

Hooptedoodle #337 - Garrulus Glandarius - and more on the Swallow Saga

The Contesse did very well to spot this today, snaffling some bread from the lawn (braving the jackdaws...). In fact I'd seen it a couple of days ago, sitting on the overhead power lines in the fading evening light, but it was on the other side of the lane, and I couldn't make it out clearly - just a vaguely grey bird, too small for a wood pigeon, wrong shape for a thrush.

Well, of course this is a Jay - garrulus glandarius - really not such a rarity at all, though they are not so common in Scotland, but we've never seen one here before. Only time we've ever seen a Jay was in my parents' garden, almost 20 years ago, when they used to live in Liverpool.

Anyway, he's most welcome (provided he behaves nicely, of course). I believe that you usually hear jays before you see them, so we'll keep an ear open for that.

Separate, though related, topic - Swallows again

I have occasionally recorded here our impressive lack of success in discouraging swallows from nesting in our woodshed. This reached a farcical crescendo with the introduction of a fake owl, who failed so dismally that he is now sentenced to stay in the woodshed until further notice, so that he may observe the annual arrival of the swallows and reflect on his inadequacy.

I hasten to say that we have nothing against swallows - they are, in any case, protected - but it seems a bit unnecessary for them to fly all the way from Africa each Spring just to build another shambolic nest in our woodshed and crap on everything in sight. So this year's Grand Plan involved something a little more ambitious than a plastic owl. I commissioned Chuff the Joiner (excellent fellow - replaced our Velux windows in the attic a couple of years ago) to build a caged entrance gate to the woodshed - timber and 16-gauge galvanised steel mesh - to keep out the swallows (and the rats, and the cats...). I also got him to line the timber back wall (which has gaps between the boards) with the same mesh. Fantastic - now we can stop the nests merely by forcing the little beggars to go and build elsewhere. What could possibly go wrong?

That's right - you guessed. Chuff was late starting the job, so that by the time the gate was complete the swallows already had built their nest in the shed, and had eggs in it. Thus we now have to spend the rest of the Summer being careful to prop the door open, so that the swallows are able to come and go without hindrance, and their babies will not die. I guess we just have to get rid of the nest and clean the place up when they have all gone back to Africa in the Autumn.

In the meantime, it does hurt just a little to have to keep the smart new £450 gate propped open. I particularly did not appreciate the adult swallows sitting on the power lines this morning, hissing and tutting disapprovingly when I was working in the garden. All right - I accept they think it is their garden, but it does seem a little ungrateful in the circumstances.

Next year, though - next year...

Wednesday 19 June 2019

Quatre Bras - 16th June 1815

General view at commencement, from behind the French right flank. Quatre Bras itself is represented by the building in the distance, just below the purple cushion(!). No idea who that bloke by the fireplace is - he was there quite a lot
Very enjoyable game at Goya's estates yesterday. As always, we were sumptuously entertained and looked after. Thanks very much for everything, gentlemen!

The game was the Commands & Colors scenario #014, which is a standard-sized 13x9 hex set up. We used my Ramekin adaptation of the C&CN master game, with a few (inevitable) beta-test tweaks, of which I shall say a little more later (assuming I remember). I was Marshal Ney, in command of the French forces (most of which I brought with me across the bridge from sunny East Lothian), while Stryker was Wellington, in charge of the Allied army. Goya chose to umpire, which was a most generous thing to do, in the interests of keeping the sides balanced. Apart from my own troops, there were lots of lovely soldiers on view - I must apologise that my photographs may not do this justice - Stryker will undoubtedly produce something more satisfactory, so I look forward to that.

If a little French bias creeps into what follows, I trust you will believe that it is unconscious, and merely a result of my having spent a day looking at the game from a French viewpoint.

The scenario allows the French an extra Victory Point (VP) if they hold the actual crossroads at Quatre Bras - 9 VPs for a win.

The game started with most activity around the Bossu Wood, on my left. My intention was to use my light infantry battalions (I only had two) to try to flush out the Dutch-Belgian (henceforth D-B) and Hanoverian troops before the British got their terrifying (and large) Foot Guard units in there. We started well enough, eliminated a D-B foot battery which was set up on the edge of the wood, but thereafter things got bogged down - my light infantry did not do well - one unit managed to stray too far from Command and thus were unable to move into a promising-looking attack, and that whole flank got bogged down very quickly, which meant I was pretty slow getting my infantry and heavy cavalry over the (fordable) river and a little ridge and setting about the Allied centre. When we did get that going it went fairly well for a while, but a pattern emerged which was recognisable from what we saw at our Albuera game some weeks ago - the French managed to wear themselves out fighting the relatively "softer" non-British troops (who actually fought very well) so that by the time we got to confront the British reserve we were already running out of steam. One big lesson of the day was a reminder that heavy cavalry are badly handicapped without horse artillery - we didn't have any. The chances of breaking an infantry square with cavalry are not good (especially if the damned squares are on a hill), but using the cavalry to force the infantry into square and then having something else to hit them with (such as horse artillery!) would have been a much more useful strategy. Oh well.

The game was close. At one point, quite early on, I was 6-3 down on VPs, then I got it back to 6-6, then my attack in the Centre got it up to 7-6 in my favour, then it came back to 7-7, and the end, when it finally came, was quite sudden. One of my battalions was eliminated in melee, and General Bachelu was killed along with them, at which point the Allies won 9-7. It is a bit of a constant theme of these games to say that it could have gone either way, but it really could. Anyway, history won out, I guess, which is something of a compliment to the scenario designers.

Stryker made a very good job of moving his forces nimbly and effectively in the space available - the Prince of Orange and The Duke of Brunswick were especially successful at rallying their troops when they had suffered under fire. This is really an encounter battle - neither side has the mix of troops nor the starting positions they would ideally choose. The Brunswick artillery were effective, and there was a particularly troublesome RA battery which I chased off the ridge a couple of times, but each time they brushed themselves down and climbed back up to resume fire. Stand-out performances? Hard to say, really - the D-B boys did pretty well, the Foot Guards are unstoppable if they get going, the French artillery was unusually effective. As French commander, it felt from fairly early on that I was going to run very short of fresh troops eventually (since, historically, D'Erlon's boys were not present, spending their day marching around somewhere between Quatre Bras and Ligny) and, though the day swung backwards and forwards for a while, that is eventually what happened.

Good game - a fairly stodgy start by the French, but exciting stuff later on. Quatre Bras on Waterloo Day - that's not bad, is it?

Opening situation, from behind French left. Bossu Wood is most of the foreground - Perponcher's D-B boys are well established in there. In the middle distance the French cavalry await instructions, while Foy's infantry confront the Dutch-Belgians in the centre. At the far end, Bachelu's division glare across the river at the Brunswickers
The river was not an obstacle, though anyone trying to fight their way out of it might have been a little incommoded. Prince William's chaps on the ridge to the right of the river reconsidered their position when the French Grand Battery opposite opened up. Note the proper, Old School Bellona bridges...
Ah yes - the Bois de Bossu. Didn't go well for us. You see the Legere boys going in there to dispose of the Dutch-Belgians. Ha! We eliminated the battery on the edge of the wood, but that was as good as it got in this part of the field
Slender Billy (seen waving his hat in the distance) sensibly shifted his men behind the high ground to get them away from the Grand Battery in the foreground (he may have been studying the ridge, to see if it would be possible to dig it up later to create a monumental mound)
Wider view of the same stage of the battle. That battery on the end of the ridge was a very persistent nuisance
Back to the Bossu - 2/25e Leger manage to get themselves stuck too far from commanders, and thus, without orders, do not have the wit to fire on the exposed enemy unit opposing them - they do take heavy losses, though. Oh well
Still struggling, 2/25e Leger fall back. Top left you can see Coldstream Guards approaching. Hmmm. This is not going to plan at all. The Guards were supposed to arrive to find the woods packed with crack French marksmen...

In some disbelief, General Kellerman came to help out, ensuring there at least was a General Officer near enough for the French left flank to be able to think straight, but things went from bad to worse. Those Guards are getting nearer, and - yes - that is a very large unit
Since the battle was obviously not going to be won over in the woods, Foy made a belated attack in the centre - that's him with the white border. The Grand Battery now being masked, Prince William, still waving his hat like the hero he is, got his boys to pop back up onto their ridge. The blue discs with "Tesco" embossed on them are, of course, order counters. Wellington and his staff are somewhere behind the building in the background
Foy's Division actually did pretty well here, and the French started to level up the VP score. The French cavalry started to come forward, too
Things suddenly look more promising for the French Centre, but those reserves on the right are a bit worrying
Since Foy doesn't have any reserves, so as you would notice, Bachelu makes a very late attack on the French right flank
Very welcome break for rations - grateful appreciation to our host. We decided against any selfies of the generals eating. We may not fight with skill, but we have elegance in abundance
Suitably refreshed, Ney sends forward his cuirassiers - no horse artillery, precious little support of any kind
Here he is - a little out of focus, but enthusiastic
All on their own-io, the cuirassiers get up onto the ridge - WHAT IS HE DOING?? WHAT IS NEY DOING??
Whatever he's doing, there's an awful lot of empty space on the French side of the river now
Inevitably, the battered cuirassiers are pulled back, while Bachelu (unseen by the camera) has just been eliminated at this end of the table - that's about game over...
On the Allied side of the field, it is evident that some of their units are just about hanging in there, but it doesn't matter now. You can see Wellington and his entourage just this side of Quatre Bras itself (complete with his trademark Travelling Tree), and you can also see the requisite nine Victory Banners. Job done
Game end, Allies on the left. It could, as I say, have gone either way, but a French win would have been a bit of a surprise - overall, I think we were beaten fairly thoroughly. Very enjoyable defeat, I have to say, and - as ever - educational! Sincere congratulations to that bloke by the fireplace
Rules? Not much to say - Ramekin system worked well enough - we had a rule tweak to allow units which had suffered loss to rally - this was a bit generous as drafted, but is worth refining - and we also re-introduced the Tactician Cards from C&CN Expansion #5, which put some surprises and a bit of welcome colour back into the game. We'll keep that as a useful option for the future. The revised balance between ranged combat and melee combat in Ramekin continues to work well - we did some tinkering with the abilities of various troop categories. All worked nicely enough.

Monday 17 June 2019

Hooptedoodle #336 - Did I Jump Too Soon?

I've managed to steer clear of the Tory Leadership circus in the last few weeks, and I must say I feel a lot better for it. I reasoned that the party members are sufficiently self-obsessed to be able to carry on without my paying attention, which is a relief. Since my announcement that I would not be putting myself forward (see my Fake News Hooptedoodle from last month, if you can be bothered), I have had occasional requests to reconsider.

I confess that there have been moments when I was tempted - occasionally I would see one of the hopefuls in action, and find myself thinking, "you know, I could do that...", but commonsense has triumphed, I believe, and I am happy not to be involved. In any case, I'm trying to keep myself free in case I get offered the manager's job at Chelsea FC, which will probably have a more secure future than that of UK Prime Minister. The big problem for me is this Brexit thingy - I haven't the faintest idea what they are on about. We all have to accept our own limits, I think, and, though I have been waiting patiently for the Daily Mail to finally come to my aid, and explain clearly how this No-Deal business is all going to work (since they obviously understand it), I'm still none the wiser. Best to stay out of it, then - my Preston grannie would have had something pithy to say on the subject, you bet. 

I understand that the first of the televised debates for the real leadership candidates [real? - discuss] took place yesterday, and Mr B Johnson did not appear - his chair and lectern remained empty throughout. I didn't watch the thing, naturally, and I am reluctant to admit it, but I'm quite impressed by that. Not only did he set himself up to be the only candidate who did not disgrace himself last night by speaking drivel on live TV, but it seems he actually increased his share of the opinion poll by not turning up. Brilliant. Fleetingly, it occurs to me that I, too, could have failed to show up, but I'm sure I couldn't have done it so charismatically or impressively.

This is not a new concept - fairly recently, the United States elected a president who was not a politician, for example, so the idea of a null candidate has been around for a while. I recall that many years ago someone wrote a song in support of a US presidential nominee named Nobody - on the grounds that this was exactly the person who would govern with integrity, who would care for the poor and the sick, who would ensure that the legal system and taxation were fair for all, etc. I had a look, but couldn't find the old one (1970s? - yes - we've had buffoons around for as long as that). I did find this clip, however, which would be better if it hadn't been so childishly produced, but it makes the point. Clearly we have to have someone running things, but would a vacuum be better than an idiot? Worth thinking about. Does an empty chair have real advantages over Boris? Hmmm.

I'm bored with this now. I'm still not going to watch the next live debate, but am intrigued to see if this cunning ploy catches on, and no-one turns up to it at all - trying to out-absent each other. Keep your cards hidden. Say nowt. That would be something.

Better still, perhaps they could all just shut up and leave us in peace. I am sick to death of hypocrisy, flagrant dishonesty and self-promotion. Some clown tried to sue Mr Johnson recently for telling lies while serving in a public office. Imagine a politician telling lies - good heavens. That's not even funny.

How long can this confounded farce rattle on? No - it's OK - I don't really want to know.

Saturday 15 June 2019

Marshal Ney's command base now complete

The command grouping for Ney is finished now - the third figure is a General de Brigade from the Chief of Staff's department. This extra figure (on the left here) is another Art Miniaturen casting - this time an old, OOP one.

Don't tell us that Old Foy got three postings out of a single figure group, they chorused - has the man no shame at all? Well, I guess not - guilty as charged.

You know what happens to newly-painted troops? - these fellows are bound to meet with a very sticky end at Quatre Bras on Tuesday...

Friday 14 June 2019

Ney's ADC

He's a day later than planned, but no matter - this is Marshal Ney's ADC, Colonel Pierre-Agathe Heymès, all ready for Quatre Bras next week.

A couple of things about Heymès: his background was in the horse artillery, which seems unusual for an aide; also, because I really had no idea, I checked with my consultant, and it seems that the French would pronounce his name "em-ess", with the stress on the first syllable. The French would probably also regard his name as sort of Spanish, I think. After the Restoration, he was appointed ADC to Louis XVIII, which surely cannot have been a very strenuous role.

The figure is one of the High Command at Waterloo set by Waterloo 1815 (in metal), but in the interests of calming him down a bit I have given him a more placid horse (by NapoleoN Miniaturas). He is still obviously a bit overexcited, but let's just assume he is waving his sword to attract attention, or to motivate the troops. At Waterloo, Heymès is usually depicted as riding a grey - as on Dumoulin's great panorama at the battlefield Rotunda. I have chosen to place him on another of his (numerous?) horses, since I regard a grey horse as a high-risk project, and I would not like to spoil this effort by mounting him on a ridiculous-looking cuddy.

Ney, being of Army or Corps-Command grade, is entitled to have two accompanying figures in my organisation. Commandant Lachoucque insists that Ney only had the one ADC in the Waterloo campaign, so the other one (which I start tomorrow) can be a rather mundane ADC borrowed from a Général de Division.

I must say I really enjoy painting staff figures. Something to do with my attention span, I think. Col Heymès can enjoy the distinction of being the most flashy soldier in the army until I get round to painting Soult's ADC (who is also in the queue).

Tuesday 11 June 2019

The Return of Dan O'Herlihy

There's a battle coming up next week, and I have a few bits and pieces to sort out for my contribution to the spectacle. I have to paint up a couple of staff chappies, for a start. This evening's deliverable is Marshal Ney, gentlemen. His varnish is still wet and shiny, but here he is.

I do have an official Ney figure in the spares box - in fact I have a couple. I had intended to paint up Art Miniaturen's Marschall Ney, complete with bare head, waving sword and rearing horse, but I changed my mind. I also have the metal Waterloo Staff set from Waterloo 1815, but they are wildly dramatic - they are also, let it be said, some 25mm to the eyes [Massimo should drink less coffee]. The Perry Twins have now done the definitive charging Ney, albeit in a larger scale than I use, but Ney complete with bulging eyeballs, as seen in the rotunda painting, does not seem a very useful figure for me. So I've gone for a rather calmer Ney - it is an Art Miniaturen casting, right enough, but I think it's actually supposed to be Auguste Coulaincourt - I shall now forget all about that - this is Ney. I've given him a nice dashing white jabot, and he has the necessary red hair.

With a bit of luck he should have some staff by next week, and he should be a lot less shiny.

Saturday 8 June 2019

eBay - Definitely the End This Time

I recently posted a sad tale about an apparent hack of my PayPal account - I managed to take quick action on it, but it seems that not quite everything was sorted. I now find that I have been subjected to what is becoming a common scam - someone hacks into your PayPal account, inserts a fake address so that they can link to your eBay account, and then - as they have done in my case - sets up a fake listing for sale on your eBay account.

First I knew about it was when I started getting emails about an "unresolved issue" on eBay - someone wanted a refund because I had failed to deliver a set of security cameras which they had bought from me. Erm - security cameras? The listing was still active - it seems I had sold 1 out of 50 sets available. No money had reached me though PayPal. The purchase took place on 22nd May - the following day I got a request from eBay to change my password, and did so, though they sent me no details which might have put me on my guard. I changed my PayPal password as well (again), at the same time.

This morning I had a phone conversation with an eBay security man, based in the Philippines. He was very good and very reassuring - they were already aware of the problems with my account, and are in the process of cleaning everything up - the eBay listing has now been taken down, I have no need to worry about refunding anything - the purchaser (if there is one - that may be a scam too) will be reimbursed. The law enforcement authorities will be notified about the incident as appropriate. Was there anything else he could help me with?

Well, no - nothing else really. I will be closing my eBay account as soon as they let me back into it. That's enough - I've been muttering about this for ages - I think that God has now sent me a sign.

Watch your step. As it happens, I had kept a note of the full name and address which was hacked into my PayPal account, back in April. It is a guy named Nikolaj, who lives in London. Interestingly, the security cameras were supposedly for sale in London. OK - there's lots of people in London, but the man in the Philippines tells me the incidents are related. The security people were quite impressive, though I'd have been more impressed if they'd sorted the matter out before I reported it.

That's it for me - eBay now officially stinks - I have had good use out of it for 15 years, but for me its time is up. There are too many fifth-rate crooks hanging round the internet, trying to suck some blood out of the system.

Cheers, Nikolaj - I do have your full ID and address, and I do have friends in London. I shall fantasize about that for a bit. Incidents like this always (well, "always" is a bit strong - I'm very careful, and pretty savvy, and have had very few problems in the past) leave me feeling ashamed for being stupid. With hindsight, other than changing my passwords rather more frequently, I don't think I could have done much better.

Tuesday 4 June 2019

Old Friends

I was dredging through my "Generals & Staff" spares box, looking for some suitable French ADC figures, and I found these fellows hiding in a corner.

They obviously came from eBay - Lord knows when - they look as though they were painted by the same collector and they have obviously seen some action. Minifigs S-Range figures - they do have a certain battered charm. I recalled that the Lone S-Ranger blog once tried to identify which of these chaps was which, according to the S-Range catalogue (which means VINTAGE20MIL these days, of course), so I checked that out and the results seemed inconclusive. I'm keen not just to go round the same loop again, so though I am casually interested to identify the figures, the main excuse for this post was to feature these three old friends, as a token of my respect. It looks as if they have been together for about 50 years - they are presently resting in my spares box, but no matter.

As far as I can make out, the candidate figures are:

NS 2s - French Marshal
NS 9s - Ney
NS 10s - Murat

though it does seem surprising that Minifigs didn't attempt a more spectacular uniform for Murat. I confess I have no idea; whatever, here they are.

I'll maybe get them a gig in the Guard Division, now that I have one.

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

With thanks to Goya, here's an example of post-S-Range "Intermediate" Minifigs celebrity figure - this is Nansouty, who was FNCX5, apparently (and probably still is in the current range, but without a saddle).

And here is a uniform for Murat which appears consistent with the right hand fellow in my original photos...

My thanks to Goya and Alan and everyone who contributed!


Monday 3 June 2019

A Tale of Two Flags

Yesterday was a flagging day, which means I was involved in attaching a flag to a new unit. I keep stocks of my home-printed flags, and fitting them is not complicated, but it does require some care, because it is very easy to mess it up. And I do mean a mess. Water-based glues and ink-jet printed flags are a potent mixture, especially if you have fingers like elephants' feet.

Thus my stock of flags includes enough extra copies to allow for the odd failure.

Since I had the flagging kit out anyway, and since I have now (at long last) produced a correct flag for the Régiment de Prusse (4eme Étranger), I thought I might as well invest in a little drop of creeping elegance, and replace the flag for that unit. A tale of yesteryear beckons...

The fact that I have a Napoleonic army at all has a lot to do with the OOB for the Battle of Salamanca, which has always been a central inspiration. I'm not sure exactly when, but maybe 10 years ago I was tempted by mention of the Regt de Prusse in that OOB - admittedly only a residue of 80-odd men by 1812 (in Brennier's [Taupin's] 6th Divn), but that was enough of an excuse to encourage me to paint up a battalion of something (anything?) to provide a little variety among the otherwise relentless blue and white of the Armée de Portugal.

At this time NapoleoN Miniaturas had released their pack of "Allied Infantry", which basically represented Confederation troops in Spain during the 1808 period. These chaps are in moderately scruffy campaign dress, with covered shakos and rolled overalls. I painted them in the dark green of the Foreign regiments - the Prussians had red facings, silver lace and rank insignia. They also had, I had read, a non-standard flag - it was 162cm square instead of the normal 80cm for a French 1804 flag - and it had a spearpoint finial instead of an eagle. This was all faithfully reproduced in my little battalion.

A couple of asides here.

NapoleoN Miniaturas are sadly missed nowadays, but their figures are an odd mixture, ranging in quality from the exquisite to the downright agricultural. This is probably not unconnected with the fact that they had two master-makers, one of whom was a very talented sculptor and one of whom was the owner. Interestingly, a close parallel might be argued to have existed at Falcata, around the same time, and maybe even Les Higgins (much earlier). Whatever, the Allied Infantry set was not one of NapoleoN's best. In particular, there was an officer on foot, marching, wearing a bicorn with an oilskin cover - I've seen the same JM Bueno plate as the sculptor obviously had, but the hat is so blatantly made of a folded newspaper that I omitted this particular officer from the unit.

As originally recruited, with big flag. Both the photos in this post look a bit washed-out - the reds are proper reds in real life. The figures are from the NapoleoN "Allied Infantry" set, with the mounted and foot officers from Kennington - the foot officer at the end of the 2nd rank was drafted in to replace the man with the newspaper hat.
The authentically oversized flag I produced looked - well, daft. I've always been a bit touchy about it. If anyone were ever to comment on it, I had even memorised the references in Dempsey's Napoleon's Mercenaries so I could justify it! This is an area where I am a tad fussy. Stupid really, since my French army includes Les Higgins figures sporting 1806-style queues but wearing square-lapelled Bardin-type habits, not to mention Garrisons with high gaiters and the same late-model coat. Many of my British infantry strut happily around the Peninsula, wearing their Waterloo shakos. My armies are full of howlers, inconsistencies and known inaccuracies. I gloss over them all, but I do like the flags to be reasonable.

The infamous Bueno drawing of Confederation troops in Spain, featuring the officer in the newspaper hat
One trend in wargame armies which I have not approved of over the last couple of decades has been caricaturisation (if there is such a word). Beautifully- painted 28mm figures with grotesque faces, huge hands, outsize heads, giant muskets - OK - that's all down to the sculptors; there has also been a move to crazily-oversized flags. The French flag of 1804, let us remember, was 80cm square. If your French army has lovely flags which are 6 feet square in scale then that is your taste and your choice - no problem - but to me that looks daft. Thus my big Regt de Prusse flag, authentic or not, has troubled me.

With replacement (regulation) flag. Of course, it may be incorrect now. Hmmm. Must give the flag a little curl. Flags which look like hatchets are not cool.

Yesterday I replaced it. It no longer looks daft, I think - of course, it may be incorrect. I'll have to worry about that for a while now...

If I change it back then I promise I won't mention the fact.

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

By special request, for Liverpool Dave, here's another dodgy photo of one of my Confederation battalions. This time these are Badeners (alas the Baden infantry in Spain did not wear the fabby helmet) - the newspaper hat is in evidence on the left end of the second row. 


Sunday 2 June 2019

French Refurb - 1/47e arrives

Another finished battalion for the French Refurb project - this time very kindly painted by Lee, for which my sincere thanks and appreciation.

Castings are appropriate Old School Les Higgins, for the most part, with some more modern support. I was more than a little disappointed to find, when they emerged from the stripper, that some of the fusiliers were in fact re-cast copies, but Lee coped with all that. The grenadiers and the drummer are Schilling miniatures, and the colonel, predictably, is by Art Miniaturen. The eagle bearer is an old NapoleoN casting. All a bit of a mish-mash, really, but very welcome. The first battalion of the 47eme Ligne, these chaps will form part of Ferey's Division of the Armee de Portugal, early 1812.

Thanks, Lee.

Second Topic

This morning I re-acquainted myself with a very nostalgic aroma. I sharpened half a dozen old "Beryl" pencils. Wow - the smell of freshly sharpened pencils - instantly transported back to ancient classrooms, old workplace scenarios, even my old sketchbook when I was a kid. Reminds me - do they still have the Cumberland Pencil Museum in Keswick? Haven't been there in years, but it used to be a fun place to visit.

Third Topic

Purely my worthless opinion, of course, but since Mr Trump's forthcoming visit to the UK is in any case not a widely popular event, why does he feel it is appropriate to express his views on our current political situation? Notwithstanding the compulsion to put in a plug for a couple of his pals, would it not be classier and more polite if he just kept his fat lip buttoned?