Wednesday, 22 May 2013

New Book - Soldats Pastiques: Cyrnos et Jim

Available at the Plastic Warrior Show a couple of weeks ago was this new book on two major French manufacturers: Cyrnos and JIM (Jouets Incassables Modernes en Matiere Plastique).  Once you get past the major Marques of CGB Mignot, Quiralux and Starlux, French made figures in all their metiers are notoriously difficult to identify, they carry little in the way of markings, while packaging, advertising and catalogues hardly exist (compared to the plethora of material surviving for U.S. British and German makers) and so this book is much overdue and greatly welcomed.
Soldats Plastiques - Cyrnos et Jim, author Alain Thomas,  A4 soft cover format, 136 pages illustrated throughout in full colour.  Depot legal: D/2013/6284/1

Written by Alain Thomas who is well known for his previous three books on Starlux which were written in collaboration with Jerry Meimoun, I couldn't see any ISBN number so take it to be self published, as is increasingly the case these days.  My copy cost me £25, I think you can buy it a bit cheaper direct from the author but then you have to pay postage so it all works out even in the end.

The text is only in French but it is very easy to follow even if you have very basic language skills (like me), as always with such books they are all about the pictures and this one does the job admirably as you can see from the sample page above.  The first 70 pages concern JIM and the remainder are devoted to Cyrnos, each section follows the history of each company from aluminium into plastic figures, how to identify them and then a pictorial cataloguing of their various ranges.  Both companies products are common enough in France but don't appear to have ever been exported so have only become known outside their mother country in recent years through the more International collectors shows or the ever present ebay.  This book is well researched and beautifully presented, the figures of these two companies deserve to have a much higher profile on collector's radar and I understand that this may be the first in a series of such publications on the lesser known French manufacturers.  Highly recommended.

Monday, 13 May 2013

New Replicants figures at the Plastic Warrior Show May 2013

The annual Plastic Warrior Show was held on May 4th 2013 and it has become something of a tradition for Replicants to launch new product at this event each year, this time around they had ten new figures and here they are:

The new Replicants figures, painted, on their stall at the PW Show, the photo didn't come out that great so clearer pics are below.  Back left are four Culloden Scots, back right two ACW and front centre four new medieval knights with the existing figure of Simon de Montfort that they were made to accompany.

The four new Jacobite Scots, executed in true swashbuckling poses full of action and originality.  Sculpted by Peter Cole who constantly strives to defy and confound the limitations imposed on producing figures from a two part mould, the chap clubbing with rifle is probably my favourite and the one with two pistols is straight out of the old Rob Roy comic strip. 

Along with the previous four Replicants in this series, the six Cherilea highlanders and a clutch of various AWI militiamen that will stand in as lowland Scots I have about thirty figures ready to portray the Jacobites for the expanding C18th project, and that's before delving into the realm of conversions, so this interest is beginning to gather it's own momentum, much encouraged by this: 

The Battle of Culloden in 54mm as portrayed by Dirk Donvil's Belgian group PMCD Mobilisatie.  Enjoy.

Actually I would prefer to be directing my attention towards the Jacobite Rising in Ireland but I don't think the figures above would fit the bill and I can't find  anything much in the way of uniform sources.  Anyone out there able to give me a steer in the right direction?

The four C13th knights to go with the previously issued figure of Simon de Montford at the Battle of Lewes in the 2nd Barons War.  Great animation, the bases are sculptured in the style of the old Britains "Wars of the Roses" knights, which has become something of a signature for Replicants figures.

No extra photos of the new ACW standing and kneeling figures, I didn't get them because frankly I am awash with such poses, but there must be a big demand for them or they wouldn't have bothered to bring them out.  The two figures are suitable for either side and look very similar to earlier Replicants/Marksman issues.  All Replicants figurees are distributed by Steve Weston's Plasticsoldiers

Other new figures at the Plastic Warrior Show were a range of Marlburians sculpted by Mr Len Cooksey of Ivanhoe figures, moulded in resin.  Sadly I can't show you them because by the time I'd battled my way through to his stall they were all sold out!  No doubt they will reappear at the London Show in June (but sadly I may not be able to attend this)

Amongst many other things I picked up a couple of sets of Barzo Conquistadors for a C16th/Wars of Religion project that has been simmering away for a while now, the musketeers and crossbowmen will be useful but the rest of the poses are a bit odd and will need some work before they see the light of day again. 

And finally..............a gratuitous shot of tables groaning under the weight of plastic. 

The Plastic Warrior Show moved to a new venue this year just a couple of miles up the road from Richmond, West London, where it has been held for the past twenty years (yes it really has been that long) and there was a fair bit of anxiety about how the new site would be received.  Happily it seems to have gone down very well with the dealers and attendance through the door was way up on previous years, so our fears about people finding the place were groundless.  In addition to the horde of Continental European dealers and collectors who made it (far to many to mention individually), we welcomed Ron Barzo and Jim McGough, Paul and Laurie Stadinger all from the U.S.A. and Brenton Hoffman all the way from Australia. 

In fact there was only one person who complained that the new venue was too difficult to get to and he had come all the way from.................. you guessed it.  London!  

See y'all next year folks.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

H G Wells "Little Wars" Centenary Games April 2013 - part 2

The sun came out for round two of the H G Wells Little Wars Centenary Games and so we all decamped to the garden for some proper wargaming!  The scenarios for the second and third rounds came from Colonel Monseneurgue's 1913 work "Cavalry Practical schemes".  In true Wellsian fashion each side was designated as Army Red or Blue regardless of the national army they represented and each side was given sealed orders and objectives.  In game 2 Army Red had troops posted in woods at either end of a central road which it had to hold until reinforcements could come up, Army Blue was an advance guard required to clear the woods, secure the flanks and open the road  for it's Army Corps to pass through.  Here are some pics:

The Forbodian Horde commanded by TG, missing from the lineup in the previous post, took to the field for round two in place of the Turks as I was drafted in to co-umpire this session.

Bastions of Empire, the Mounties and Skinners Horse stand firm ready to do their bit.

The immaculately presented Horse Artillery of Army black

A rather neat Russian Mountain Battery takes up position

In typically Wellsian pose ST draws a bead on the enemy cavalry.

The second round came to a close as dusk closed in and after a hearty toast to all concerned the Gentlemen were lead on an Historical Tour of the Old College before retiring to change for dinner.

Sunday Morning saw hostilities resumed after breakfast, the final scenario introduced hidden movement and finds Army blue holding a major road with two entrenched guns, facing two regiments of Red infantry with two guns.  The remaining Blue forces are hidden behind the tree line while Red is moving unseen around the flanks, the game is afoot:

At the start of move two, Red's guns have moved into the positions vacated by Blue's artillery and their infantry find Blue retreating in echelon.

Blue's secret orders are to withdraw from this exposed position and beat a fighting retreat back to hold a second line along the next treeline, but above all they must save the guns!  Red's orders are to prevent the guns getting away.  A number of dummy markers were used by both sides to cause confusion as the troops moved into open sight.

On the left flank Blue's cavalry charge Red's lancers who are threatening the withdrawal of the guns.  Blue wins the melee and the guns continue on their way.

Just to add a little spice the Umpire now issued additional secret orders to both sides, Red was to bombard the South West area of the field (which just happened to be empty) while Blue was to counterattack to the North East of the field.

The almost suicidal Blue counter attack to the North East goes in and succeeds in pushing the Red flank back, blunting their advance and enabling the Blue guns to consolidate their new defence line......  just as play stopped for lunch.

And so a most enjoyable weekend of wargaming came to a close.  It was interesting to play the games on table and in garden consecutively (albeit with distances reduced for the table), although they are the same rules the dynamic of the game becomes very different.  Machine guns and snipers featured heavily in most of the games and added greatly to the challenge, the artillery was all matchstick firing and the standards of accuracy generally left much to be desired! 

Overall Winner of the Competition was Dr. Anthony Morton, the title of Most Gentlemanly Player was conferred upon Mr Jack Wright and as previously mentioned Best Painted Army went to Mr Stephen Thomas.

Since my return, time has been much taken up with finalising arrangements for the Plastic Warrior Show but more of that anon.

Friday, 3 May 2013

H G Wells "Little Wars" Centenary Games April 2013 - Part 1

Last weekend, the 27th/28th April, a diverse band of toy soldier enthusiasts were drawn together in the Surrey countryside, it wasn't a wargame convention or a collectors show but more a celebration to mark the 100th anniversary of the publication of H G Wells' book Little Wars.

The event had been at least two years in preparation and was the brainchild of Mr Paul Wright, author of "Funny Little Wars" (an updating of Wells' rules to take account of small arms fire, morale etc.) ably supported by members of the Funny Little Wars Yahoo Group for chaps who enjoy playing with larger size toy soldiers.

The event was split into three rounds, each with four games being played simultaneously.  First up was a staging of Wells classic Battle of Hooks Farm, which had to be played indoors due to rain, and here is what the armies looked like:  (click to enlarge)
The Russian contingent (Army Green) commanded by Dr Mike Snape, the infantry are by Armies in Plastic (AiP), the cavalry converted from Britains show jumping riders and Italieri Mamelukes.

Army Red/White/Blue, the American Rough Riders led out by Mr Jack Wright. more AiP infantry with cavalry by Britains Deetail and Paragon Scenics

Dr Anthony Morton offered us his Army Red/Khaki, The British Army in overseas order, most effectively formed up on movement trays from Warbases (note to self: must get some of these) 

By the unanimous vote of all present this Teutonic Army Black won the "Best Painted Army" prize for Mr Stephen Thomas.  More AiP infantry, traditional Britains 4.7s and elephants!   Well who wouldn't vote for them.

The composite Imperial Force comprising RN blue jackets, Canadian Horse and these rather splendid cyclists under command of the Duke of Tradgardland aka Mr Alan Gruber

Here we see Army Red face up against errrrrrr.... Army Red?  At the far end of the table a satisfyingly nostalgic collection of old Britains and other hollowcast figures from Messrs Julian Spilsbury and Andy Hussey advance toward a solid red line of the Little Wars Revisited range of figures produced, and commanded here. by Mr Mike Lewis.

........And finally my own humble contribution to the proceedings, the steadfast Turks of Army Turquoise.  the central column and artillerymen are my conversions from BMC American Civil War figures while the flanking Regiments and cavalry were fashioned from HaT figures by the skillful hand of Canadian veteran gamer Mr Ross Macfarlane

One army is missing from the lineup above; the Forbodians of Mr Tim Gow who was charged with assisting to umpire the first round.