Monday 30 January 2012


I've been asked about the movement trays shown in the New Units post. For those interested, here are the blow by blow details. They are normally made from 3mm (1/8th) MDF initially ripped to the base width on my table saw, and some stripwood the same thickness. The first photo shows the tools and materials needed for one base, in this case an eight man cavalry unit, including the individual bases for the figures. This base was knocked up in a day, not counting the painting, between various birthday celebration happenings.

Next, glue the stripwood along one edge and one end. I like to mitre the corners, but it's not essential.

Use the individual bases to set out the other two pieces, remembering to leave a bit of space for paint thickness, otherwise the figures won't fit the space. Once the glue is dry, in neccesary, cut of any extra length or width. Sand the edges.

The completed base is then painted. I use a basic primer and top coat of a tin I had made up at B&Q, (for people outside the UK, this is a DIY superstore with branches everywhere), to match Humbrol green number 80, which is my normal figure base colour. The trick is to use quick drying paint where you can wash the grushes out in water. Apart from fitting labels and figures, the tray is complete.

I did experiment with hardboard for one tray, but wasn't happy with the finish. I found the edges 'frayed' terribly and were difficult to sand smooth. I won't be doing that again.


I've finally reached the milestone of my 65th birthday. From now on the government start to pay me for a change. All I have to do now is decide on a date for giving up work , whether full or part-time. It all depends on what the bank manager can offer when I see him later in the week. The photo was taken yesterday when Julia and the children (!) took me out for a birthday dinner at Waldringfield. A good time was had by all.

Wednesday 25 January 2012


One of my other hobbies is woodwork, especially small projects, and over the years I've built up nearly a full collection of Hobbies Weekly design sheets from the 1930s to late 50s when they ceased publication. These design sheets were issued free with the magazine, sometimes every week, but more often at fortnightly intervals, and 'specials' with the annual.

I was recently browsing for fretwork projects and was directed to a site called  which had a numbeer of downloads, one of which is the following -

(apologies, but I can't seem to get it the right way up) - anyway, it makes up a model representative of the Tower of London on a base of 2foot 3inches by 1foot 6inches, with the tower as a seperate, lift out, unit. The dowload printed out at A4 size, so it's a case of maths and a visit to the copy shop. A summer project for those long light evenings.

Monday 23 January 2012


I've  finally managed to finish of my initial unit of Rifle Volunteers. Some photos included. These figures are castings from GBE of Conningsby, and I started them some years ago. I'm not sure where the blue facings came from, but I seem to recall some idea of using them as 1815 Brunswickers! The paintings not brilliant, I need to practice my fine lines and colour seperation, but they are adequate. They are a 'Big Wars' unit of ten plus officer and mounted on a movement tray. One of the photos shows how they can be removed for open order or as casualties.

And here is A Battery RHA. Hopefully to be followed by B Battery complete with team of horses, (I.m trying to pluck up courage to start on it as I have a set of Langlay castings waiting). Also sitting on a movement tray for ease of shunting about, this unit has been hiding away, complete, in the loft, which is why it is not a volunteer unit.

p.s. I see that the photos are dated 01/01/2007, this is because
a) I'm using a small hand held cheap digital this time, rather than my SLR
b) I didn't realise there was a date setting until the photos appeared on the laptop.

I'm now working on a couple of light cavalry regiments, which will appear eventually. I do envy these people who can knock out a brilliantly painted unit in a metter of hours.  

Sunday 15 January 2012

New Year Resolutions

I hadn't got round to doing anything about New Year  Resolutions yet, apart from trying to decide what to do about retirement, so thought I'd better get something down (and they'll be in black 'n white, so I can check the lack of progress).
First, complete the build up two seperate forces for my 54mm Heptarchy. I've got most of one small force nearly complete (in castings, anyway, painting is going slowly - it's too cold in the shed and there's not much room on the table in the loungs corner, and the light's terrible) so I need to plan a second force and build some form of infrastructure (buildings and scenery) for games. I allready have the flat area outside the shed, about 8ft x 10ft, earmarked.
Second, I have had a part-built baseboard for a small model railway in the shed for a couple of years. It's time I completed it and built the layout.
Third, I'd like to try making a few of the 40's/50's era 50ft=1inch waterline warship plans (anyone remember Modelcraft Ltd) built and see if I can use them on the lawn. I think I've the ships for 'Sink the Bismark' if I use the Vanguard as Bismark.
On top of that I have quite a few 28mm figures to deal with, various general woodworking projects to see to, a 3ft pond yacht from the 50's to restore - as well as another project, still under planning-Will I have time to keep the blog updated.

Sorry, no pictures this time.

Thursday 12 January 2012

Insight into the Heptarchy

Some weeks ago I promised background into my British Heptarchy of small nations. This has been a harder job than I envisaged, and I have had a bit of a job finding the highlights. I've not even attempted a history, apart from little snippets that will fall into place over the years (I don't know them yet).

My Imagi-Nation is based on the premise that the various Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of the 10th and 11th centuries never managed to combine into the single entity that became the British Isles. So we have variously sized kingdoms of the 'English' area and the neighbouring countries of the Kingdom of Strathclyde (Scotland) and the Republic of Wales. The following notes are a brief background to the current (19th century) situation, and covers the era known in an alternative reality as the 'Victorian' Era (1837 - 1901 + or - a few years)

The various smallkingdoms, principalities and duchies have struggled along in a state of amiably distrustful alliance and occasional enmity for centuries. Borders have changed now and then, first to one side then another (think Alsace-Lorraine) and though they all have seperateidentities, rulers, politics and relationships with each other they have been known to co-operate for the greater good. This happened most recently in the mid 1700's when the armies of Strathclyde crossed the northern borders to redress alleged abuse of drovers taking cattle to southern markets. This army, under the late king Charles and the Duke of Cumberland, got as close to the Mercian capital of Nottingham as Derby, was persuaded to retire by their army council, were followed back by a combined force from the Heptarchy and defeated at the battle of Culloden. Currently there are rumblings from the new Republic of France, Russia, and the recently unified Germany, over various trading and foreign interests.

A number of poloiticians in the kingdoms have recently been discussing the possibility of making a 'United Kingdom' similar to the German model, in order to smooth out border controls, unify taxes and centralise government. Talks have been extensive, have considerable opposition and cause much controversy between the 'fors' and 'againsts'. The main problem occupying the various state governments is the question of an overall monarch. Mercia feels that as the largest economy the eventual capital should be with them, in the centre of the country, while Wessex think they have tradition on their side with an unbroken line of succession from the time of Alfred.

The Welsh President, Mr. Llafanihangel Penbedw, has offered his services as mediator, and Cardigan castle as neutral grounds for a conference, though insisting that Wales will remain independent. The residents of Strathclyde have also expressed theor own desire to stat outside any Union.

So, some insight into the framework, which I think gives a number of options to follow. I shall give short specifics of each seperate entity at a later date. Any suggestions or comments gratefully receieved (though not neccessarily taken notice of). As the great German philosopher Heinz Zeit* said "it's a clever man who thinks of everything in time".

* Thanks to the membership of the Gnatterbox model railway forum for the name of this distinguished gentleman.

Friday 6 January 2012

Big Wars

When I first came back to the Wargaming fraternity late last year a lot of my old reference books were in storage in the loft. I 'knew' that somewhere among them was a copy of Stuart Asquith and Jack Alexander's rule book for 54mm battles; BIG WARS. An initial search was ineffective but it transpired I was looking for a bookcover of the wrong colour, I was searching for what I remembered as a red book, while in effect once I found it (looking for something else) I discovered it was blue.

This A4 stapled booklet was privately published in 1993 and contains 15 pages of rules with as many of adverts for figure manufacturers (GBE, Ensign, Dorset, etc.) and  photocopied colonial period pictures. I think the appeal to me was that Line Infantry battalions are of 10 men plus an officer, Light Infantry battalions are 5 men (with or without officer) and Cavalry regiments are 4 men. Armies are therefore a lot smaller than current thinking. This must be where my 10 man regiment comes from, though I make my cavalry units 8 troopers as the smaller unit doesn't look large enough.

My project units are slowly evolving, there should be group photos soon, and then I can try some small scenarios with these rules, just to get the feel back.

In the meantime, Mr William Freese-Greene, of the 'Daily Messenger', has come up with a scoop, a photo taken at great risk, of the spies Altamont and Ashenden.

These are actually castings from my stockpile, of Holmes and Watson, made by 'Music in Miniature'.The car is from an old Highway Pioneers plastic kit and I've forgotten its make.