Thursday, August 22, 2013

Mid-August, Northamptonshire

A Nice Week Off

Amongst all the hurly-burly, and with a week away (so the best part of two weeks without picking up a brush) it was nice to get back to normal, prep some kit and get a game or two ...

So I painted the Egyptian boat I bought in Kulmbach.  There is some papyrus to come (and it will then be mounted up on a transparent base) - but for now it sits nicely on the Lords of the Nile river bank.

I used an experimental technique, priming in enamel, then rubbing down an oils layer (giving that interesting terracotta effect) before detailing and finishing with acrylics.

(the four main painting stages)

OK, the Nile is a bit blue, but it'll do for now.

I think I'll try an elephant next ...

(click on the images for a bigger picture)

We also tried out Treb's new Sumerians for an evening of Neil Thomas's AMW.

There are a number of things that will need fixing and between Treb, myself and IRL the Biblical expert, there was no absolute agreement over how we thought an ass-powered battlecar would actually work ...

(Summer fun: trying out Trebs new AMW armies from ancient Sumer)

... and we weren't convinced that the big bodyshields offered the minimal protection Neil gives to them ...

(Big Shield infantry - I'm sure there's some sort of 'Barndoors and Battlecars' mileage to be had here ...)

But there's undoubtedly something to enjoy in the period ..

(Battlecar showdown ... Treb uses casualty rings to mark hits) 

And we've also convened a useful session to knock Flodden into shape for an anniversary game next month.

(Flodden: King James sploshing towards the resolute English - Bankinista's Scots)

I'll write the key features up on ECW Battles as this one looks to run best with Renaissance Armati using some of my 17th Century adaptations (though inevitably the game ran much more smoothly once we got rid of separate bow and bill components and created composite Foot units for the English) ...

So a bit of DBA baggage, a pre-Biblical AMW game and an Armati playtest from the end of the period: the run in to the Autumn shows season has started well.

Friday, August 16, 2013

9th - 11th August, Kulmbach, Bavaria

This trip grew out of my acquisition of a large number of flats from the early years of ancient wargaming ... a collection of Deryck Guyler and Tony Bath ancients plus Phil Barker's Romans.

My early interest was sparked by seeing the Guyler collection on Blue Peter as a youngster and then the Trimsos game in Don Featherstone's book - so being asked to give a home to some of those figures has been a great opportunity ...

But all enthusiasts know that collections are never complete and refurbishment always means going shopping...

... and, for flats, the Kulmbach show is the pace to go.  

For those that don't know it, the Zinnfiguren Borse (Tin Figure Market) takes place every two years, and although it covers all sizes and styles of model soldier it famously specialises in the traditional German style flat figure.

It shares Kulmbach with two other appropriate specialities ... the brewery and the Plassenburg Zinnfiguren Museum.   On my first day in Kulmbach I explored and acclimatised to the show: on day two I made the trip up to the Plassenburg (which overlooks the show) and discovered the best museum in the world, ever ...

At the show, while some figures are displayed in dioramas like these excellent Rangers, most are racked up on picture boards like the beautiful 'Battle of Issus' figures from Cortum ...

This is one of the ranges I went out to see.   There are literally hundreds of these boards to browse, plus cardboard sheets piled up and stacks (honestly, stacks) of trays to shuffle.    It seemed impossible to see everything (which is what I usually try to do at a show) ...

Everything seemed available in ample supply, and although a lot of the figures come in sets, everything was available singly as required.

The price seemed to vary by, at most, 20% either side of 1E for foot, 2E for mounted (so about the same as round figures, give or take) ...

Way above the town (the toy soldier show is in the big white-roofed structure just below half way on the right of the picture) ... sits the Plassenburg, where I spent the afternoon of Day 2.

(Don't despair - there's a bus up the hill and it only takes 5 minutes)

My first impression of the Plassenburg Museum was that it was very busy.  I guess lots of people are in town for the soldier show, and build a visit into the trip.

There are 4 floors of toy soldiers here, all historical, the core 2 floors being the age of Frederick the Great and the age of  Napoleon.   But here are some inspiring ancients ..

(Priests carrying a ceremonial barge in ancient Egypt)

(Aztecs and Conquistadors)

A couple of relief dioramas (part of a series on Hannibal's crossing of the Alps)

Of course, Kulmbach is but a few kilometers from Bayreuth ... so, although the Museum is otherwise mercifully free of fantasy, there is room for characters from the Niebelungenleid ... here, Rudiger ...

I will report more on the Museum elsewhere, but suffice to say here that anyone who loves military figures should put it on their list of places to visit at least once.   You might as well make it an odd-numbered year and the second weekend in August (that way you can take in a unique toy soldier show too)

Meanwhile I was back down the road to finish my shopping ...

This was one of my better efforts: ignore the Egyptian boat (that beauty will decorate the river on my 'Lords of the Nile' DBA board) ... mostly, this little haul will finish the oddments in my Plataea collection.  The guys lying down are for casualty markers, of course.


The Plassenburg Museum is magical and a must for any serious enthusiast.

The Zinnfiguren Borse was essential for me as I had gaps to fill in a flats collection.   If you are not (yet?) a flats enthusiast, there is still plenty of good stuff, especially non-UK figures ... Mirliton, those Spanish guys, the rarer plastic and resin 20mm sets 

Of course, it is just shopping, and lacks the ambience of a UK show and all the lush attractions of set out wargames and participation games.   I think without the Plassenburg up the road it would be a  bit soulless (a vision of the future maybe for the cranks who want to turn UK shows over to the trade stands) - in this case the mix works and I will surely be back.