Thinking about going to Miniature Figure Collectors of America Show

A few years ago, I got a chance to go to the Miniature Figure Collectors of America Show and competition in King of Prussia Pennsylvania.  I was impressed by the true quality of the painting.  This was not a wargamers event per say but professional painters many of them and it showed in the quality of their work.  Many of the figures were on military subjects and it was both great to see and inspiring.

Not really good shot from show taken with old camera

Not really good shot from show taken with old camera

I have never risen to the level of competition level in my painting and seriously doubt I ever will.  I admit I flirt with the idea but no, I really have a long way to go before I can compete and would not go to a big show like the one in King of Prussia but I am considering going to see this year’s show in May.

Miniature Figure Collectors of America Show 2016

2009 Show

2009 Show

Creative scene don't remember the painter

Creative scene don’t remember the painter

It would be a long drive just to stay for a few hours and come home but I am thinking about doing on the Saturday, as I do not have to work.  I will have to give it some thought and see what the wife says since I do not work that weekend.  I have included some photographs of figures from the last show I attended in 2009.

Liked this bust so much I bought a unpainted version for myself

Liked this bust so much I bought an unpainted version for myself

I found the work creative showing the figure going below deck

I found the work creative showing the figure going below deck

Not a good picture of a nice piece showing the Australian Light Horse charging the Turks during WWI

Not a good picture of a nice piece showing the Australian Light Horse charging the Turks during WWI

Figure scratch made and painted by Bill Horan

Figure scratch made and painted by Bill Horan

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Looking for peoples opinion

 

One thing you do not always see on a wargaming table is artillery limbers. Don’t get me wrong sometimes you do as the person involved has painted a complete army with every type of troops that is possible to show up and be involved. Other times actually often, you don’t see them much. This can be because of many reasons I am sure. They were not made by any manufacturer, person focused their money on the troops and guns did not feel like spending the extra money, they were expensive and hard to find, just felt to be unnecessary.

 

I have enjoyed many games with and without limbers and caissons over the years. For some periods, I have some for some I never have had any for the reasons given above. A fellow gamer I play with has some nice limbers for his American Civil War guns they look great on the table. I have a few for my 1859/1866 Austrians but only a couple and I got them a long time ago from a now defunct company. Even then, I would say they look rudimentary.

 

So one thing I am thinking about is long term after I bought and painted all my armies is too perhaps if I can find them get limbers for my guns. I understand that would mean many limbers. I have many guns if you just count my Prussian and Austrians armies. Through in the French who I have not finished and Bavarian I have not even bought we are talking many limbers. Therefore, we are talking about a lot of work and most likely capital if the proper items can be found at all from a manufacturer in the first place.

 

Therefore, here is the crux of the post I am looking for answers to a question and opinions. Do you use limbers yes or no? Do you think they are really necessary? I could put this on a topic on The Miniatures Page and most likely get responses. All kinds of responses who knows what will be said on that topic on that website. I decided not to go that route for a variety of reasons I will not get into here. Perhaps I will use that forum another time.

 

I look forward to hearing from people and plan to respond to people as long as everyone is polite. I have never received anything but polite messages from people but understand that it is always possible for things like that to happen you can just go to The Miniatures Page for examples. Thanks, Steven

On the Workbench

Even if I have not been participating in many games recently I have been doing some painting and have a number of things completed and am working on other things. Working towards my long-term goal of having large armies in 15mm for the period 1859 through 1870 I have been working on figures for the 1859 Franco-Austrian battles in Italy.

I already have one corps part of second plus a cavalry division painted up of Austrian troops. After giving, it thought though I realized that in 1859, the Austrian regiments had a strength of 4 battalions. When I had rebased the figures, I had left them at only 3 battalions. So one of the things I have been working on is painting up a 4th battalion for the regiments I already have. Most of the figures I am using now are actually 1866 Old Glory Austrians but I decided not to sweat it as I am also going to play the 1866 battles. Anyone who does not like playing with the troops with overcoats on I guess can play the French side.

Rebased old Austrian Figures

Rebased old Austrian Figures

 

Austrian Fourth battalion

Austrian Fourth battalion

Other thing I concluded was that in the past I had bought and painted myself two Corp of French infantry. One problem I had only one cannon. So a little while ago, I got some Old Glory French foot artillery and have started to paint them. They are painted up easily and I have been painting up the artillerymen to go with them. At the Cold Wars convention last month I got more bases for the artillery so I was all set in that regard to outfit the units with some guns.

I did decide to do a few things different and be a little experimental with the stands. Well experimental for me in any case. Often you see rows of artillery stands for whatever period you are playing with just the figures and the cannon on the base. Flocked or not you do not find much other scenery on the base. I was a little different on some of my bases.

One I gun and crew I put behind a built up dirt mound. Meant to look like a hasty defensive work it adds a little difference to just rows of cannon. Not really, read of the French really doing that much but decided I would do it anyway. The dirt mound is actual tin foil covered with paste then painted. Am I happy with it well actually yes, though I thought the gun was not going to clear the mound by as much as it does originally.

Beginning of stand with gun behind dirt bank

Beginning of stand with gun behind dirt bank

On another artillery stand, I have a destroyed tree behind the crew. It is meant to represent splinter damage from counter battery fire the artillery piece has been receiving. The mostly destroyed tree is resin from a company I bought a bunch from last year. Again it is really meant to make the artillery stand just be a little different from the normal ones you see on table while wargaming.

DSCN2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While doing this I also just painted up ones with a little flocking type material and paint. So a little bit of everything is going on with this group of guns I am working on right now. I am about to order some more guns and some mitrailleuse for the French to use in the 1870 campaign against Prussia. I don’t have any of those so I will need those and mounted French generals to really fill out the units I have.

A Post On Paint

Not a really inspiring topic but it can be important if you paint your own figures that is. I have used a lot of different paints in my time. It is interesting how you can just kind of fall in love with a particular makers shade for a certain color and use it a lot. This has happened to me several times over the years since the 1970’s and I started painting. You use and love how it goes on dries and looks afterward. Sometimes these paints will last forever it seems and never lose the great effect they give you. Others well they don’t do as well or last as long. A lot of trial and error in painting which most people might agree with.

 

I should mention I am referring to water soluble acrylic paints for the most part when I talk of painting. I have never used oils though I have tried enamels briefly. For me I have always been affected somewhat by how easy it has been to obtain certain paints and manufacturers. I still have some Ral Partha paint I use from the 1970’s yes they never dried up and look really good. These are mostly metallic colors don’t know if that has any effect on their lasting so long or not. I really feel they are good paints though long out of production. I used Polyscale for a long time as well. When I learned they were going out of business I bought up a bunch of their paint and it is all used up or dried up now. Has been for some time I am afraid though I really was partial to several colors they made.

 

I then became partial to Armory paints and used them and what I had left of polyscale for my figures. The brick red was my go to red for a long time. They also went out of production and I tried to stock up on them. This does not really always work as they dry up on you I find. I was using lots of Games Workshop paints for a while but never was in love with them and did not find them as easy to get as I would like. The internet of course allows for the most part an ease of getting most paints but still I was not ever 100% sold on them for some reason.

 

I tried Howard Hues and liked them but found they dry up easily perhaps the size of the container is a reason who knows. I like to use their equestrian colors still for painting horses but don’t use them for much else.

 

Of course Vallejo came out some years ago and became kind of my standard. For the most part they are easy to obtain not that expensive and in general I like the colors offered. I feel they cover well on a figure and last. Mostly I use this brand now for the figures I paint. They were really good for my Crimean War figures I felt the colors were spot on.

 

I tried Reaper but never really got into them though I have some I just never use them. I should check if they are any good still. I gave some of the Foundry Triads a try a number of years ago and liked the results. One problem is the ordering and price from the UK. I last year placed a big order with Foundry and it just never arrived. For the cost it should arrive and the Foundry people were just like oh well no big deal. I got a refund and no more order from them they cost so much as is I decided they were not worth it.

 

I got some Coats d’ Arm and like them and they cost less than Foundry does. So for me now I really just use Vallejo, Coats d’ Arm, Games Workshop and Ral Partha paints. Heavy on the Vallejo which is the vast majority of my paint. I game with people who don’t paint any of their own figures so for them paint is not an issue to think about. For me it is and I wish I that I painted to above wargamming standard. For the most part I don’t think I do. At least not when painting armies. Then I may not be alone in that.

 

Like I said at the beginning not an exciting post perhaps. Still I thought about my painting has changed over the years as has the paint. I still think that the Armory Brick red looks the best of any red I have ever used on figures. For me Polyscale Frost Giant White also was the best white I ever painted with and I miss it. You can see it on many of my 1859 Austrian infantry.

 

Perhaps one day I will get to the point where I am not only 100% happy with the painting I do on the figures but always am able to get the paint I want easily at the price I like.

Book Rommel and Caporetto

Received the book that I asked for from my nephew for Christmas. I read it a little while ago but did not write about it. It is perhaps one of the best books on the Italian front during the First World War I have read to this date. The book is written by Eileen and John Wilkes and published by Pen & Sword, 228 pages with maps.

 

The book does deal with Irwin Rommel and actually goes into his service before Caporetto on the Western Front and the formation and history of the unit he served with during the war. It goes into detail about the commanding officer and Rommel’s service during the war. His various exploits during actions that led to his being award the Blue Max following the battle.

 

The book is well documented and footnoted and goes into detail describing his actions and those around him both his commanding officer, those serving under him and other units that fought alongside him. It gives an interesting view of Rommel the young officer. Perhaps it does reinforce the image of the aggressive attaching officer he is more famous for during the Second World War when he held high command and became known as the Desert Fox. It also shows Rommel and an individual who cared about those he fought not a self-centered individual bound on glory. Pretty much the opposite.

 

For me the best part of the book is the makeup of the lion share of the book that really deals with the Italians on the front. The book gives you the history leading up to the battle from all angles. You learn from the top command on down. What people did and did not do that led to the great defeat for the Italians. The book goes into great detail about the commanders at Supreme Headquarters, the corps and division level. You learn just what a perfect storm that happened that led to the overwhelming defeat of the Italians at the battle. Yes, they faced good leaders and elite highly trained troops such as Rommel’s and that had an effect but even that was the only thing that led to the collapse of the front.

 

For me the information on the Italian army and commanders is excellent. The book really tells you everything that happened on the Italian side and I really think that is great. It really brings out the good (not much) bad and ugly of the Italian command on all levels that led to the defeat. If you want to learn about the mistakes made both leading up and during the campaign, this is the book for you. It is descriptive and you learn a lot about the Italian commanders and forces defending against the German and Austro-Hungarian forces.

 

The book has a large number of maps but if I were to criticize the book, it is the maps are not clear. Constantly the book goes into great detail about battles along the lines and mountains but it is sometimes difficult to match up the maps to the descriptions in the book. The maps are somewhat rudimentary I felt. No photographs are given either in the book and even though it goes into great length to describe how rugged the terrain is a photograph might have been nice to back that up.

 

The lack of preparedness of the Italians both from a tactical stand put. Not being ready for infiltration tactics used at this time by the Germans and Austro-Hungarian and strategic level is well detailed in the book. I really got a sense how this was a real perfect storm that hit the Italians and if not for the Allied powers sending troops and Central powers deciding to limit the offensive the Italians may very well have been taken out of the war.

 

For the Wargamer

 

The book has potential for a wargamer looking to recreate the battle. The book has excellent detailed descriptions of the terrain even without having any pictures of the actual battlefields. In addition, order of battle for both sides and unit strengths are given down to the number of men and machine guns. One could I feel easily run battles on the company level especially for Rommel’s units and the battles they fought.

 

Battles on this front are largely ignored by wargamers for various reasons but the Caporetto campaign gives the gamer a chance to play some small scale company level actions to large scale actions. It can be turned into a fast moving campaign instead of the stagnate trench warfare seen on Western Front and to a large part on the Italian front as well.

 

No details of the uniforms are given but that information can be found in other places such as Osprey books. As for figure choices, I do not know much in the way of availability but as this is late in the war the German, Austro-Hungarian troops were using infiltration tactics, and storm troopers so I figure figures are available.

 

Conclusion

 

This book has a lot to offer people on various levels and is available from various sources for not a lot of money. If you are interested in Irwin Rommel and his background this book gives you the information on his First World War service on both the Western and Italian front. If you are interested in the Italian campaigns of the First World War this book is excellent for the political, strategic and tactics used by both sides. For me one of the best parts was the detailed information on the Italian commanders from the very top down. The decisions, tactics and personalities involved are examined in detail.

 

I wanted to read the book to learn about Rommel’s early military career, which the book does well. I found I learned much more about not just the battle of Caporetto but the Italian front as a whole. I did have some information on the subject and interest but by far, I got much more than I expected. This is a good read for the military historian wanting to get away from the Western Front battles of the First World War for sure.

American Civil War Battle

This is a real late After Action Report of a battle that we played several weeks ago right after the HMGS Cold Wars convention I was able to make it to the weekly get together of the Wednesday Night Gamers of Alexandria for an American Civil War battle that Del Stover was putting on. He was setting up a little scenario with the Confederate forces commanded by Del and I protecting a cross roads from the larger Union forces commanded by Rick and George.

 

 

The Union commanders George and Rick

                           The Union commanders George and Rick

Union infantry and cavalry advance on rebel right flank

                    Union infantry and cavalry advance on rebel right flank

A large motive of the game was to play test some new rules written by a friend of Dels. These rules are a quicker version of Johnny Reb III meant to get more turns in that if you were using just Johnny Reb. None of us other than Del had any experience with these new rules and this was really a play test.

Close-up of union advance

                                              Close-up of union advance

 

 

 

View from union lines

                                               View from union lines

My cavalry getting overextended

                                       My cavalry getting overextended

 

 

 

 

Cavalry battle on the right flank.

                              Cavalry battle on the right flank.

The only thing that saved my cavalry George rolled snake eyes and I rolled box cars

      The only thing that saved my cavalry George rolled snake eyes and I rolled box cars

We played the battle over two weeks and the rules definitely were faster. We got 7-9 turns in on the first night alone. I shot pictures of the battle the first night but not so many the second. Each side had cavalry, artillery and infantry with the union as the attacker being a larger force and it was not set on any historical engagement.

Total view of the battlefield after 1 night

                          Total view of the battlefield after 1 night

Short summary of the battle is that instead of staying back and being on the defensive my flank got too far out attacking. Del and I were out maneuvered by George and Rick on both nights and out rolled on the second night. Either one is not good but when you are outmaneuvered and out rolled, you are in trouble. We took a beating.

Confederate left flank feeling the union turn the flank

              Confederate left flank feeling the union turn the flank

We found some holes in the rules that need to be worked on or tweaked we thought but then that is what play tests are for. We got a lot of moves in and that is a real positive note. It does move faster than Johnny Reb III. Not a rules set I have plaid much I admit. The club will no doubt do some more play testing of these rules in the future. I really like Del’s figures for the American Civil War they look really good.

Sure they look good but can they fight.

       Sure they look good but can they fight.  These confederates are going to be overrun.

HMGS Cold Wars Convention 2016

This year was the nicest weather I had seen during the Cold Wars Convention in years. I was getting use to snowstorms to be honest. Even though the weather was much, better than last year it did look like attendance was down this year. That is what I had heard and noticed myself having a number of canceled games I registered for. The figure I heard was 20% but I will not claim that figure to be accurate.

I enjoyed myself no matter what the circumstance and was aware of the attempt to sell the Lancaster Host just before the convention was held. Again, many people have written I believe on this topic and I will not go into it. This issue did not keep me from attending and as of the publishing of this post; the Lancaster Host has been sold. Again, I have no comment on this other than to hope that new owners fix the place up and keep it up. I did for the first time in more than 20 years not stay at the host for a variety of reasons including the poor condition of the property.

The negatives aside, I did enjoy the games I played in and the vendor’s hall. I even bought a few painted French Franco-Prussian War cavalry in the flea market this year. Unlike some of the other members of the club I belong too usually find many things in the flea market. The vendor hall was also great I thought as I bought some things like every year. It did appear to have a dealer or two less than usual but that is not something that I get bent out of shape over.

The Wednesday Night Wargamers of Alexandria put on a number of games in the lobby of the Lancaster Host this year. Kon had some Battlestar Gallactica games that seem well attended using Full Thrust rules. Del put on some American Civil War games using Johnny Reb. Rick had a couple of pulp fiction games with nice buildings and terrain. This shows just a fraction of the variety of figures the group has and plays which is nice.

 

 

Ricks Steampunk Pulp Fiction Game

                                        Rick’s Steampunk Pulp Fiction Game

 

Del's desert adventure game

                                             Del’s desert adventure game

 

 

I took few pictures this year but did get some of the game I played in put on by Bruce Weigle using his new 1871 rules for the Franco-Prussian War. The fast play rules I really have to say I like. It was the battle of Sedan and the goal for the French commander (Me) was to exit as many troops as I could before I was totally surrounded. A tall order believe me.

 

 

 

 

Huge Battle of Sedan put on by Game Master Bruce Weigle

                         Huge Battle of Sedan put on by Game Master Bruce Weigle

 

 

Prussians moving to block the French escape from Sedan

                      Prussians moving to block the French escape from Sedan

French Corp defending against the invaders.

                              French Corps defending against the invaders.

More French move to fight off capture

                                         More French move to fight off capture

Bavarians close in from the south at Sedan

                                Bavarians close in from the south at Sedan

 

 

We were a little short of players and therefore had to push a lot of lead but I found the game very enjoyable. The game was tense and well-played by both sides I thought. The terrain and figures Bruce brought were great. He really puts on very good games and his knowledge on the subject is superb. In the end, we were forced to pick up early, as the next group to use the table needed a lot of time to set up. Did we the French totally escape the trap at Sedan? No, did we do a little better than history yes and I think we would have done even better given time. A really good game.

Strong French Right Flank

                                                        Strong French Right Flank

Huge battle with great figures and terrain!

                                  Huge battle with great figures and terrain!

These French won't go down without a fight.

                              These French won’t go down without a fight.

I enjoyed the convention and plan on going again next year. Don’t know if I will stay at the Host or not but with a new owner perhaps. I will not attend Historicon as it falls on a bad time for me. As for the HMGS Fall-In Convention in 2016. I have not been to that convention in sometime but think I might give it a shot this year but will need to make a decision when we get closer to the convention time.

 

WNGA Battlestar Galactica Game

                                   WNGA Battlestar Galactica Game

Kon says the Colonial Forces did not do well in this game

                Kon says the Colonial Forces did not do well in this game