Saturday, 31 December 2011

Little Wars armies - progress in 2011

Way back in January I made a New Years Resolution not to start any new Little Wars converting projects until I had completed the ones that were already in progress and , unusually for me, I stuck to it - well almost.

For a couple of years now I have been building up Russian and Turkish armies of the "roughly" 1880's period based on pictures of Heyde solid lead 45mm toy soldiers in the book Bleisoldaten by Hans H. Roer (sadly long out of print).  I came to this period because it's a bit different and exotic, nobody was making the figures at the time so it gave me scope to do some simple conversions which would provide a very personal collection and I like the idea of late 19th century armies slugging it out on fairly even terms (I had long since done the ACW to death).  I started the project with what I consider to be the tedious part of building wargame armies which is knocking out bog standard units of infantry for both sides, that done (along with a bit of cavalry) by this year I am down to wrorking on staff, a bit more artillery and whaterver takes my fancy, this is the fun bit for me and it will probably be ongoing to a certain extent for some time to come.

Turkish staff, made from cheap plastic BMC figures with metal heads from Dorset Toy Soldiers

Turkish command groups, made as above with Britains Herald figures for the officers and buglers, BMC for the standards.

Russian staff and some additional infantry to bring existing units up to strength, these are still WIP.

Russian riflemen from the Caucassus

French naval landing party, still to do - standard bearer and bugler, perhaps an MG also.

French ADC with some generic support troops, a cook and a blacksmith.  I plan to make more support troops in shirt sleeve order with blue trousers striped red, the idea being that they can then be used with any national army rather than have lots of duplication.

A project that's been too long on the back burner for me are Japanese troops circa 1905, I plan to move these up the to do list in 2012.
Chinese have never featured as a project for me but I think that will change in 2012.  New Years Resolution for 2012: forget about existing projects, just do stuff for fun but do lots more of it.

Monday, 26 December 2011

New book by James Opie

I had intended to buy James Opie's new book " Collecting Toy Soldiers in the 21st Century" at the London Toy Soldier Show a few weeks ago, where for the cover price of £30 I would have recieved a signed copy direct from the hand of the author.  However the fates decided that I should not go and therefore I have obtained an unsigned copy courtesy of Amazon for just over half that price (how can they do that when it's brand new?).

Published by Pen and Sword books Ltd. ISBN 978-1848843738, 207 pages fully illustrated in colour throughout.

This is a follow up to James' previous book "Collecting Toy Soldiers" which he wrote 25 years ago and sets out to reflect on the changes in the collecting environment during the intervening period.  And what a lot of changes there have been, the whole demographic of collectors has changed as the older hollow cast lead generation have given way to the baby boomers of the 1950's and 60's plastic era.  Also there has been a boom in availability of figures through shows and the internet, a feast of information through magazines, new books and blogs, and a veritable renaissance in manufacturing both plastic and modern metal collectors items. 

Getting back to the book it's very much a gentle guide through Opie's personal collecting history and his philosophy of what makes a good figure, how to build a collection and how to wind down from it.  That last aspect is rather new territory for me but being a near contemporary of the author I found the concept of "how to stop collecting" strangely compelling as it's something you start to think more about as you get older.  I'm going to shut up now because I'm getting boring, it's a very good book crammed with great and unusual pictures of toy soldiers and I would very hapilly have paid the very modest full cover price for it had not Mr Amazon intervened.

Friday, 2 December 2011

London Toy Soldier Show 3rd December 2011

The London show organised by King & Country is being held at the Royal National Hotel this weekend but sadly I will not be there.  The December show is by far the best one of the three they run each year (in my opinion) and this will be the first one I have missed since this event began over a decade ago.  If anyone who is going plans to put a report and photos anywhere please leave a comment to let me know where it's posted so I can have a look, alternatively if anyone wants to send me the details I will happily post them here.

In the meantime here are some pics I took of one of the Skirmish Wargames Group's games at one of last year's London shows.

The SWG put on a different game at each of the three K & C shows held each year and they are always a highlight of the day for me.  Spectators are encouraged to join in but I have to admit that I strugle to follow the workings of the rules (because I'm a bit thick when it comes to that sort of thing) but the terrain and figures are never less than inspiring.