Thursday 29 December 2011

Building a Volunteer

Attached is a photo of my first conversion for many years. Done mainly to see if I still could, and to see what such a figure would look like. The main parts are a body from Prince August British Guard casting, arms from same, head from Langley castings, pack from spares box (Fort Henry Guard casting) and the rest, (straps, haversack, and much packing of joints) from assorted strips and lumps of miliput. Unfortunately, I know where all the mistakes are, so this chap will be relegated to guard duty somewhere away from the public eye.

Information for the uniform came from a CD purchased from Sean Ryan, runner of the Uniforms Of The World website, who sell CDs covering many varieties of uniform, all at a reasonable price and very easy to use. This is the illustration I used for my figure. (Used with Sean's permission) His website also has an extensive forum section, well worth a visit.

I shall be having another go soon. I understand that Prince August have a mould making service if you provide a suitable master, so if I get a decent figure I might avail myself of that to produce the regiment.

Tuesday 27 December 2011

Xmas presents

I received these three books over the Xmas period. Fully illistrated with at least one picture on each page, covering the works of all the well known artists. A lot of inspirational information covering most of the 19th century.

I hope you all got something that you wanted for Xmas.

Ah well, that's it all over for another year. Back to work at 7.30 tomorrow (wednesday).

Wednesday 21 December 2011

Compliments of the Season

I didn't realise that I'd been so dilatory this month. Due to the seasonal takeover of my workroom/photo studio/library for present packing and storage, plus its proper use as spare bedroom, I have not got a great deal done. Also, I'm having trouble with my camera at the moment, so no photos anyway. I have bought quite a few 'picture' books over the past few weeks so have been studying those.

My resolution for next year is to do better on all fronts.

In the meantime, best wishes to all, and a card by one of my favourite cartoonists.

Wednesday 30 November 2011

A Little Taster.

Here is a map, from some site on the web (possibly Wikipedia) showing the Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy, or the basis for my alternate 19th century Britain. As I said last time, I'm currently working on the political and military 'what is what' for the various kingdoms, and trying to find reasons for various disagreements. These will mainly be over the various successions as they become available, or complaints about trade and border disputes. I'm not going to go into great historical detail, or worry much about what is happening in the rest of the world, though the various French Republican Wars and the wars between the French and Spanish areas of America (ACW in disguise) will bear upon us, as well as the various attempts at German and Italian unification, as many in our little Islands favour a similar structure, so further grounds for military argument.

The full text may take some time, but I will let snippets fall as they become available.

In the meantime, here is a photo, with apologies for not being as sharp as I'd like it to be, of Grand Duchess Gloriana, ruler of East Anglia, newly repainted (see the post of Nov 16th for the original) in her parade uniform. The only alterations to the model are a base and new plume.

Uniforms for her army are decided, the infantry are in various shades of grey, with a couple of greens. I'm having difficulty tracking down the appropriate style of flat topped cap (which no manufacturer, at least of parts, that I've contacted seems to make. I've had various alternatives but they all need work) I'm hoping that my trip to the Toy Soldier show on saturday will help. If not. I'll have to go the long way of conversion, mould making and casting my own heads.

Cavalry, only four units, are a mixture of lancer, hussar, and dragoon uniforms. Artillery currently stands at one Langley field gun and Horse Artillery crew, with a limber and team waiting to be made up.

I shall try to get some more photos of the finished units out by next time.

Tuesday 29 November 2011

Book Suggestions

I know I promised some background to my alternative British Isles this time round, but I'm still working on the fundamentables, si that will have to wait. In the meantime, here are details of a couple of book titles that I've seen reviewed and have booked from the local library.
1. Vanished Kingdoms by Norman Davies, which is an 'examination of half-forgotten duchies, kingdoms, empires and republics, providing an original and surprising perspective on Europe's history'. Should be an interesting read.
2. The Sleeping Army by Francesca Simon. A novel set in  world where Christianity never happened, so Britain never stopped worshipping the Norse and Anglo-Saxon gods, hence the state religion, headed by the Queen, is Wodenism - and nobody is called Christopher. I think it's meant to be a children's 'fantasy' title, but that never stopped me before.
Knowing our local library I may have to wait some weeks.

Wednesday 16 November 2011

References and Recruitment

I thought I'd show a couple of photos of some reference books I'm using to base my various army uniforms on. This first one is a splendid general overview of the main European armies throughout the 19th century, and I think the illustrations have a lovely 'toy soldier' look about them.

Second we have just three of my small collection concerning the various volunteer forces. I've practically worked out the order of battle for a small division using these units, and am currently trying to source figures with a particular headgear for a couple of them. No one seems to make exactly the right sort of straight-sided peaked cap that I'm after. I shall be going to the Toy Soldier show on Dec.3rd to try direct research.

Next. a picture of the figure I picked up on e-bay recently. This is a little worse for wear, but when i've got the paint off  and rebuilt a plume I shall be painting it as Grand Duchess Gloriana, in a grey based uniform suitable for the armies theme.

Meanwhile, in the shires, recruitment goes on. The recruiting sergeant has been out with his shillings dragging in the willing and unwilling. These three figures are based on a painting by the artist Colin Carr, and were mastered by Kieth Over of Whittlesey Miniatures some years ago.

The final photo is of Mr William Freese-Greene, official photographer for the 'Daily Messenger'. This little chap and his bulky camera get everywhere, and we'll see some of his work later. He has got a small Ford T which he uses to get about but it doen't appear in the photo.

While I wait for a delivery of troops to paint I'm catching up with a few of the personality castings I have lying about. Currntly on the painitng table are Ashenden and Altamont, the spies, with their boss M. If we're lucky we may get a picture, but they do like to be discreet.

I shall follow this up with Mr Llanfanihagel Penbedw, newly elected President of the Republic of Wales.

Next time I'll try give a little background on our alternative little Island and its make-up, politics, and of course, it's little arguments.

Tuesday 1 November 2011


I should have mentioned that I'm not ignoring comments or the Blogs I follow. I've tried to place comments occassionaly, but get told I'm not registered to do so, even on my own blog! Haven't worked out how to get round it yet, but will be checking with my IT expert when she gets back from a holiday in Las Vegas.

List of Commanding Officers

After last weeks post about Colonels and Brigade Officers I now have a list.

Cavalry Division - Commanding Officer - Lord Emsworth
Light Brigade - Sir Trevor Howard
1)Lincolnshire Yeomanry - Colonel Bantry
2)Royal East Kent Mounted Rifles - Colonel Easterbrook
Heavy Brigade - Sir Harry Andrews
1)County of London (Westminster) Dragoons - Colonel March
2)Lanarkshire Yeomanry - Colonel Pickering

Infantry Division - Earl of Ickenham
1st Brigade - Sir James Saville
1)  1st City of Norfolk Rifle Volunteers - Colonel Danby
2)  3rd Volunteer Battalion, Norfolk Regt.- Colonel Preston
2nd Brigade - Sir Terence Pratchett
1)  2nd Volunteer Battalion, Suffolk Regt.- Colonel Moran
2)  1st Volunteer Battalion Suffolk Regt.  - Colonel Stark

Artillery Brigade - Sir Terence Milligan
1)  1st Cadet Battery, Norfolk   - Colonel Hawke-English
2)                                              - Colonel Protheroe

Support Services                        - Colonel Crock

I haven't yet decided all the infantry or artillery units to have, so the names are currently blank. The cavalry will eventually be replaced with local units when I have the appropriate type of figure.

Have fun working out where the various Colonel's come from (all are from radio, TV or novels)

I have reserved Sir Bruce Forsyth and SirWilliam Connolly for the Scottish brigades when they materialise.

To end with, a couple of photos from a recent trip to the Maginot line.   One of the gun embrasures and the field of view from the observation point (probably wouldn't have been so covered in vegetation when in use)  

Wednesday 26 October 2011

Regimental Colonels Names

Sorry, no pictures this time, I've been far too hard at work, coming home and sleeping quite a lot of the evening away.

I have been busy buying referencxe books from the internet, and deciding which units of the various volunteers I shall be using for the main parts of what I'm beginning to think of as 'Army Grey' as that seems to be the basic uniform colour for the infantry. I shall be looking out for castings of appropriate figures when I go to the Toy Soldier Show in December but in the meantime I've placed an order with Langley for an assortment of casting to replace the broken figures in my collectrion, and to 'top-up' the regiments to full strength.

I'm working on the Order Of Battle at the moment (when I;m awake) and have Regiments commanded by Colonels. These will all be named and I'm using the names of fictional Colonels. So far I've made a list of 27, without even consulting any Military novels. These come from various sources, with Conan Doyles Holmes stories and Agatha Christies 'Miss Marple' stories contributing a good selection. Remember Colonel Protheroe?.

The Brigades will be overseen by Brigadier Generals, and these are being approached in a slightly different way. I'm using the lower ranks of British aristocracy as inspiration, and they will all be 'sirs' from recent lists. Sir Alan Sugar, Sir Norman Wisdom, and (though he wasn't a sir as far as I know, Sir John Ravenscroft - Margrave of the Marches.

A long way to go yet, perhaps some pictures next time.

Thursday 20 October 2011

Dennis Wheatley

Thanks for the comments. The Wheatley map came from 'Stranger Than Fiction' of 1959 covering his work for the WW2 Joint Planning Commitee. As well as his plan for the post war reconstruction of Europe he includes various projects on civil defence and resistance to invasion, a scenario for the German invasion of the UK, and taking over Sardinia for use as a stepping-stone for a European invasion. Well worth reading for 'alternative' scenarios.

Tuesday 18 October 2011

Something About Maps

I'm a bit undecided on the setting of my new 'imagi-nation'. My original intention was to use the counties of the East Midlands as a basis for a small group of countiries around the French/German/Dutch border,

Then I thought of option two, which is to use the pre-Norman seven kingdoms, supposing that a) the Normans were held at Hastings and only managed to conquer the bottom part of the country, leaving Wessex to Harold and the Saxons, while the Danes end up with Northumbria.

Finally, I came across Dennis Wheatley's 1941 plan for the redivision of Europe after WW11. His idea was to cut Germany down to size and fit two buffer zones, one between Germany and France, the other between Europe and Communist Russia. I'm not sure exactly how he would have convinced the various countries thus dissapearing (i.e. Switzerland) to conform but it makes for useful alternative history fantasy. I,ve only put up the first of his maps to give an idea.

I've been playing with my new camera macro settings as well. Here are a couple of the resulting photos. Most seemed to cut of heads, legs, or be hideously out of focus.

And I thought I was a reasonably tidy painter. Must practice. The staff figures are castings from Replica Models, while the East Kent Mounted Rifles figure is a Langley casting.

I'm slowly getting my idea for a force based on Yeomanry and Volunteer units together. I have some books on the subjects, but have received a couple of CD's from a company ( that are full of diagramatic uniform colour schemes, and been in touch with a firm I used to deal with, D.P.&.G. of Doncaster, who, among other things, have a massive library of photos and prints. To save a large list and avoid dissapointment in ordering, this firm run a subscription scheme, whereby you pay an initial deposit, they send you a selection of pictures (5x7) geared to your interests and you then choose which you want to keep, return the rest with payment and they send you a further selection. This continues till you have what you want, at which point your deposit comes back.

I think I've gone on long enough. Thanks for reading. I will return soon. 

Wednesday 12 October 2011

More Filling in the Backstory

I spent Sunday morning sifting through more boxes in the loft. It seems I have saved more than I thought, mostly 54mm stuff with a lot of unpainted castings. Mainly infantry figures with a few unrelated cavalry pieces. If I top up the collection I should have enough to make up a small force so it looks like my first project will be a part of my large scale plan.

My intention is to build up an army using only the uniforms of the various Volunteer and Yeomanry units of the Victorian era, hence the prescence of the Lincolnshire Yeomanry for starters. I also have a unit of Rifle Volunteers half painted from previously, GBE castings, and am finishing them off at the moment. Photos to follow when they are finished.

I have names for the C-in-C of this force and his staff. The Duke of Rothesay is in overall charge, with the Earl of Carrick as his Quartermaster General and the Earl of Chester as Attorney General. It is said that these three are so alike in thought and temperament that any one of them can speak for the others.

Also, among my fretwork bits and pieces I have a number of Hobbies model plans, some going back to the 30's, and among them are a number of forts, castles and farmyards, as well as a three foot long model of Buckingham Palace. The latter I think would be ideal as a backdrop for 'parade' style photo shoots.

Photos will follow after I've practised with my camera a little more, in the meantime here is a page from my (30 year old) notebook.

Friday 30 September 2011

Some of the old stuff

current painting table contents
some very early conversions, all based on the same Britains ACW figure
Langley lancers painted as Lincolnshire Yeomanry and unknown castings of Fort Henry Guard

Hopefully, if this works, you should see some pictures of some of my old figures. I obviously need to work on my photography skills.

Tuesday 27 September 2011


I am due to semi-retire at the end of next March and my wife tells me that I need something to take up my time. Over the years I have dabbled in various types of modelmaking, whether it be railways (where I degenerated to narrow gauge to 7mm scale on 16.5mm track) or boats (I currently have a pond yacht awaiting restoration and a 1.72 scale wooden static Flower Class Corvette that has been ongoing since about 1979). Years ago I dabbled in 'toy' soldiers, joining the BMSS (lapsed) and never winning their competitions, and having a small collection of Hinton Hunt Napoleonics (long gone, I'm sorry to say, before the days of internet auctions) and all the usual wargames titles. Although I never actually useed these they are still on my shelves.

Rooting round in the loft recently I was sidetracked by a wooden box that had the lid nailed on. This seemed unusual so I opened it and found an assorted collection of figures. These were military and civilian, a mix of makes, ages and composition, and sight of them rekindled a spark. Also in the box were a few scraps of paper I'd scribbled notes about a fictional set of countries down on.

These countries were of middle European origin, the geography being that of the Counties of the East Midlands (Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire and rutland) and named after TV series or films of the era (Rubovia, Borsovia, Grand Fenwick, etc.), You'll hear more of these later.

I'm now in the process of surfing the net about wargaming (the wife says it's too quiet), finding rules, looking at figure ranges ( ain't there a lot), scales and periods, to find out what it's all about. I've been posing questions on various sites, and will spend some time sorting out my intentions. When these are finalised I'll be back, if not before.

Plea. A Suffolk gamer prepared to help out with a beginner would be welcomed with open arms, though I have discovered over the years that I am not a 'club' person I'll give it a go.


ps - The Blog title. I thought quite hard about this, and find that STEAM, STEEL AND TORPEDOES, while being the title of a book on the early steam navy, also reflects my three areas of interest qite well.