Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Painting 54mm plastics - a duffer's guide part 1

As regular readers will know, I have never laid any claim to any great talent on the painting front.  Though I can churn out toys in reasonable numbers.  But as Stalin said "quantity has a quality all of it's own."  And he should know.
Here then, following a flood of requests from at least three readers, is part one of my duffer's guide to painting 54mm plastic toy soldiers.  This post deals with preparing the figures for paint, which represents at least half the work.
Clean up the figures, trim away any excess plastic ans in required trim the bases to fit the stands you'll be using.
Wash the figures.  Put the kettle on and while it boils run a basin of warm water with washing up liquid.
 Fill a bowl or mug with boiling water and another with cold water.
May figures will have extremities which need straightening.  The bayonets of these CTS North Koreans are typical examples.
Using a set of tongs - ours are bamboo and normally serve to retrieve errant bakery products from the toaster - dunk a few figures at a time into...
 ...the boiling water.  The bent bits will straighten all by themselves.  This is also an opportunity to bend arms or legs to alter figure poses.
 Dunk the now very warm figures in the cold water for a few seconds.
Then chuck the figures in the soapy water.  Swiz them round a bit in the water as this will help de-grease the plastic.  I gather that some use a dishwasher for this purpose but ours never seems to have room!
Rinse off the soap using a colander and the kitchen tap..  Then tip them back in the basin and rinse off again.

 Finally tip the damp figures onto a tray covered with a clean towel and leave overnight to dry off.
After all this effort, and bearing in mind the kettle has boiled, it's now time for a nice mug of tea!  Make sure there are no toy soldiers in the cup first...

Monday, 16 October 2017

Birmingham Toy Soldier Show 2017

 Having missed this show in 2016 (I was in France instead), I was pleased to be able to attend it last Sunday.  As well as chatting to friends - John Curry, Mike Lewis, Anthony Morton - I picked up a few gems.
The six French gunners are nicely painted metal figures and set me back £20.  I have simply added my usual mdf bases and a coat of varnish.  They are posed here with a couple of  Armies in Plastic guns.

Eight nice cavalry were a mere £16.  Again I have based and varnished them after repainting the flaky swords.  The four above are Timpo, below are even rarer Dulcop figures.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Rapidly reorganising a rowdy rabble of Russians

In the aftermath of the Leipzig game I unpacked and then re-boxed all the toys I'd taken.  Packing up after a game - especially when it's mostly done by other people - always results in a degree of disorganisation.  None of this matters, though, as long as the toys are safe.  While I had the table covered in toys I had the presence of mind to take a few photos.  I'll leave it to you to decide if you are inspired or appalled! above  - Barclay de Tolly and Wittgenstein (great Russian names!) with four regiments of line infantry.
Barclay is a Supreme plastic figure and has real attitude.
Order being established.  One of these A4 size boxes accommodates two 18-man regiments.

As you might imagine I have a few of these boxes, so labelling them seems like a good plan.
Russian staff in their box but no doubt continuing the post-battle debate.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Bunker Hill

As I'm already a big fan of the Command & Colours series of games, when I heard that Tricorne, the version covering the American War of Independence had been published I didn't think too hard before placing my order.  As regular readers will know, I view C&C as a toy soldier game and play the Napoleonic and ACW versions with 15mm toys and the Ancients wersion with 25mm toys - all on Hexon terrain with it's 4-inch/10cm hexes.
All very well, but I don't have any suitable toys for AWI and any I do paint will be in 54mm.  Then I remembered my Irregular 2mm blocks which I originally acquired about 15 years ago for use with Richard Brooks's Minischlacht and Terrible Swift Rule games.  By re-purposing most of the figures I had already painted I managed to cobble together enough troops to play the (chronologically) first scenario.
Here is the game setup.  Graham led the wicked rebels (left) while John commanded the colonial oppressors.
Some of the terrain was a bit of a lash-up.  Here are the Continental earthworks on Breed's Hill.  And I forgot some of the actual hill.  Ah well.
The British left.  While the bases of the Continentals were edged in pale blue, the Brits used red.  Light troops have a green stripe on the left of the base, regulars blue, militia yellow.
The woods were made from cork tile with green felt glued atop.  They looked surprisingly effective.

Continental riflemen skulking in Charleston.
HMS Lively - a 20-gun vessel bombarded Charleston at one point.  This is a 30+ year-old 1/3,000 model kindly provided by John.
As the enemy were largely dug in, the Brits decided to advance.

So how different is Tricorne from other C&C games?  Surprisingly so.  It does a very neat job of replicating the flavour of linear warfare.  Infantry unite exchange fire in the hope that the enemy will run away!  Rolling a flag on the combat dice means, as usual, that the target must retreat (unless supported, with leader etc) but then the retreating unit rolls again.  This time a failure to roll a flag means that the unit keeps on running.  Not that you'd know it from my bungled explanation but it does get pretty tense!
Play proceeded fairly slowly as we adapted to the new game systems and troop types.  We were hampered by the absence of Martin and Jerry who - the only ones who can be relied upon to read and understand rules!  We wound up at a convenient point with the Brits trailing by 2 banners to 4 and accepting that they weren't going to win.