Sunday, May 31, 2015

My First Partizan Pictures

The cast and crew of the "A Military Gentleman" group at Partizan.

Well, today was simply one of the most enjoyable days that I have had at a wargaming show. I attended my first convention or show in the UK at the Partizan show at Kelham Hall on Sunday May 31, 2015.

Twenty of us from the A Military Gentleman ("AMG") forum convened to host a version of the twin battles of Ligny and Quatre Bras, only with soldiers from the Seven Years War. The French versus Prussians and British battle was ostensibly fought between the Grand Duchy of Lorraine (France) and the VFS (British and Prussian forces). The game was fought as two separate battles on two separate tables. The terrain was made by Graham Cummings from Teddy Bear fur ( disclaimer: no real bears were harmed in the making of the ground cloth. Several other members brought some buildings to complete the tableau.

The rules used were The Wargame Rules by Charles S. Grant and let me emphasize that these are not Old School Rules, but revised, well tested and modern rules that were relatively easy to pick up and understand within a couple of turns. John D. was at my table, Ligny, and he was well versed in the rules and helped us as needed. Graham refereed the Quatre Bras game with equal skill.

Most of the members brought their own troops to the game so I did not have to haul any metal across the pond. I was fortunate to be able to command a brigade of Prussian infantry from John Ray's collection and faced off against a variety of Mindens, RSM, Front Rank and I'm sure a few brands that I did not have the chance to see. 

One of the highlights for me was the opportunity to meet all of the other players, of whom I only knew through the Internet, and to match a face and voice with the name, while getting a chance to talk with my fellow gamers. You couldn't find a better group of gentlemen than those in this group.

Another highlight was seeing John Ray's collection first hand and up close, especially the vignettes for which he is well known. To my right, and capably holding down the flank was Dave Hall and his beautifully painted Minden Prussian hussars and Dragoons.

Well, enough background, let's get on to the game pictures. I took so many snap shots that I will post the pix over several different blog entries, including one devoted to the other games that were at the show.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Day Three: On the Road to Coventry and Points In Between

I boarded the train at Euston Station in London and made the one hour journey north to Coventry, where Phil O. met me to give me a tour of the area, a visit to Griffin Moulds, and a visit to a proper English pub.

I was very impressed with my journey on British Rail and only wish that we had a transportation system like this in the USA. The coaches were clean, had wifi connections, decent food, a smooth ride and none of the "airport hassle" that we all know and loathe.

A view of the first class coach that I travelled in.

Still figuring out how to do a decent selfie.

The ride was over in about an hour and I was sort of wishing that it would not end. I enjoyed zipping across the countryside and watching the scenery go by, while sitting in a comfy chair and noshing on some breakfast.

Phil O. met me at the Coventry station and it was really great to meet someone who I've known for about five years, via the Internet, but had never met face to face. I look forward to meeting more friends at Partizan on Saturday and Sunday. 

We dropped off my luggage at Phil's house and I had an opportunity to view his beautiful collection of SYW and TYW figures, before heading off to Birmingham and Griffin Moulds. The visit at Griffin was really interesting because I was able to learn a little more about how the Minden and Fife & Drum moulds and figures are made, and to meet some of the people who make it all happen.

Lisa, DAF and Jane (left to right)

Jane, who was Stewart's partner, gave Phil and I a tour of the new factory that they recently moved into. She is building up the production staff in order to reduce the backlog that built up during Stewart's passing and it looks like things are getting well organized on the administrative side of the business. Here is a picture of the new mould racking system that holds all of the master and production moulds:

Here are some other photos of the factory. I was actually able to watch some of my Minden orders being cast by Rob and had a nice chat with Martin, the head mould maker.

We spend several hours at Griffin this morning and it was time well spent and was one of the highlights of the trip for me.

Afterwords, we drove back to Coventry and visited the site of the ruin of the Coventry Cathedral, which was destroyed during WW2. The site has been turned into a public park of sorts where one can meet friends or sit quietly and contemplate the ruins, which are very haunting and moving.

Next stop, the pub, where Phil introduced me to a proper pint, over which we solved a lot of the world's problems. Apparently I was enjoying the experience:

We went back to Phil's house and his gracious wife Diane joined us for a wonderful dinner in the town of Kenilworth, the restaurant located across the road from Kenilworth Castle, which is still imposing even in ruin.

Returning home, we spent the rest of the evening quaffing a Macallan and giving Phil's collection a closer inspection, and dare I say, solving even more of the world's problems. I want to thank Phil and Diane for being such gracious hosts and welcoming me into their home.

Tomorrow will be a more leisurely day as we wend our way over to Grantham where we will meet up with more of the "A Military Gentleman" forum members and make preparations for our demo game on Saturday.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Day Two In London

After spending much of yesterday shopping, I thought that I should take advantage of my time in London to be a tourist. I never get tired of London, no matter how many times I have visited the city, and I am only too happy to see some of the same sites over and over again.

Today's agenda was fairly busy, with Westminster Abbey, Parliament Square and St Paul's on my list. Oh, and I had to pay a visit to the Bank of England in order to exchange some old pound notes (which were taken out of circulation) for new ones. The old notes are not accepted for payment.

Right then, off we go. The National Army Museum is closed until 2016 so I had to strike that off my list, making Westminister Abbey my first destination. My hotel is near Marble Arch so I could have easily taken the Underground, but I was in a bit of a hurry to get started. Also, the taxi is a good way to do a little bit of impromptu sightseeing.

We zipped past Buckingham Palace just in time to see the changing of the guard, which was a pleasant surprise. Then, just as we turned onto Birdcage Walk, a group of four policeman on motorcycles nudged past us with their lights on, service as a motorcade for someone.

"is that for you?" asked my driver. You've got to like the sense of humor of Londan cab drivers. I'm also impressed with how well they know all of the back roads and short cuts through the city. Several vans, comprising the rest of the motorcade passed us and then my driver fell in behind them.

"We will get through this traffic a little faster if we follow them." He said.

We passed Wellington Barracks, where I could a couple platoons of Guards, in khaki service kit and bearskin hats, practicing a wheeling move in the yard. I assume that the exercise had something to do with the Trouping of the Colours, which occurs in a couple more weeks.

We soon arrived at Westminster Abbey.

I hadn't been here for quite awhile, so it was almost like seeing it for the first time. There are a lot of famous people interred here, including politicians, soldiers, artists and poets, in addition to various kings and queens. No photographing allowed inside, so I could snap pictures of the monuments for General James Wolfe, Lord Ligonier, or Major John Andre among others. I also saw Queen Elizabeth I's tomb as well as that of Mary Queen of Scots nearby. It turns out that James VI / I decided that he wanted his mother to be buried here, with equal footing with Elizabeth. So even in death, Mary continues to vex Good Queen Bess.

Next, it was time to visit Parliament Square and snap some pictures of the Big Ben clock tower for my daughter, at her request:

Actually, Big Ben is in the picture at the top of this blog. 

Then I scurried over to the Underground to by transport to St Paul's and back. I bought a day pass for £12 and probably got my money's worth since I used it a number of times today. I enjoy riding the Tube because it is relatively clean, fast and keeps your feet from getting too tired.

I made a quick stop at the Bank of England to exchange the old currency and then walked to St Paul's from there

I went on the self tour of St Paul's and quickly figured out that this is where Britain's famous army and navy leaders or either buried or memorialized. So St Paul's for the military heroes and Westminster Abbey for the politicians and royals. 

The church was designed by Sir Christopher Wren, which makes it newer than I had thought. The inside of the dome is very amazing to behold. I declined the opportunity to climb up into the dome as I have a healthy respect for heights. Down in the Crypt, one can see the tombs of Wellington, Admiral Nelson and Christopher Wren. I bought small white resin busts of Nelson and Wellington in the shop next to the crypt.

I was getting a bit foot sore by this time and thought it best to head back to the hotel so that I could put my feet up, munch on some crisps, and quaff a cold drink. Tomorrow I will take the train from Euston Station to Coventry, where I will meet up with Phil O. Visit the new Griffin Moulds factory and take in a little more sight seeing.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Today's London Swag

I spent my first afternoon in London, today, just walking around the streets and taking everything in. Ostensibly I was looking for a tote bag to carry my iPad, but could not find what I was looking for. So I made my way up Oxford Street and then turned right heading down Regent Street, with its elegant curved Georgian buildings that conform to the curve of the street. See picture below:

Arriving at Picadilly Circus, I made a bee line down Picadilly and got entrapped in Hatchards, aka simply one of the best book stores that I have ever been in. I spent several hours browsing through the book stacks and purchased three books (although I could have bought many more, but I have to carry all of them home with me eventually.

I bought Digby Smiths book on SYW armies and uniforms, The Red House Mystery by AA Milne, and one of the Saint-Simon Templar books by Leslie Charteris. I'm a big Saint fan and have been for a long time. I've always enjoyed Milne's non-childrens book such as "England Have My Bones", so now I have some good reading material for the rest of the trip.

A few steps down the street is Fortnum & Mason food emporium and I probably spent a good hour strolling through the store and admiring the food displays, such as these:

You have to love a cheese called Stinking Bishop.

Tomorrow it will be museum day.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Lots of New Products Arrived Today!

I am off to the airport shortly, but a little while ago two heavy packages arrived from Griffin Moulds today and here is what is included:

Russian artillery crew both loading and firing sets
Grenadiers de France (gobs of them ordered)
Marshal Fermor
Marshal von Browne
Prinz Moritz of Anhalt Dessau
Von Zieten (heroic pose) on rearing horse

Conestoga wagon
Austrian 4-wheel ammo wagon
Austrian 2-wheel ammo wagon

So if you are a Kickstarter backer for the Artillery project, I now have everything in stock to complete all orders. I will be at Schloss Fritz on June 3rd and will start sorting and processing orders after that. So lets say 2-3 weeks to ship any of the above orders.

I'm sorry that I don't have time to take pictures of the new figures, but the taxi will be picking me up shortly and I'm running out of time.

I will be visiting Griffin Moulds' new factory this week so maybe I can post a few pictures of more of my stock getting spin cast.



Monday, May 25, 2015

I Am Off to Partizan!

The Austrian and Prussian general staffs confer over the ground rules for the coming game at Partizan on May 31st. Both of the above pictures feature figures from the collection of John Ray, and are published here with his permission.

The wargame gods giveth and taketh, so it would seem. I had to miss this year's Seven Years War Assn. convention in March, so Mrs. Fritz decided that it would be a good idea for me to cross the big pond and attend a wargame show in the United Kingdom. 

So I'm going to Partizan in Newark!

The show will be held on Sunday May 31, 2015 at Kelham Hall near Newark.

I leave tomorrow and will spend several days in London getting over the jet lag and doing a little site seeing (National Army Museum and Westminster Abbey are at the top of my list this year). Then I will take the train north to Coventry/Birmingham and stop in for a visit with Griffin Moulds so I can see first hand how miniatures are made. That would make the trip worthwhile on its own.

But wait, there's more:

Unless your name is Clark Kent and you can read fine print, then read the game flyer above. However, for the rest of us, the text of the flyer is copied below:

A Military Gentleman of the 18th Century was written by John Ray and published in September 2013.Only 500 numbered copies of this limited first run were printed. This book of 304 pages has over 500 images, covering model soldiers, inspirational pen and inks drawings plus coloured military artwork specifically commissioned for this story.

Purchase of this exceptional book allows the owner to join the AMG Forum, where the hobby and all things 18th Century (and more!) are discussed and debated in what can only be described as a wonderful 'Private Members Club'

Members of the forum thought it would be a wonderful idea if we could meet and at the same time promote the 18th Century as a wargames period.Hence the decision was made to present not 1 but two games.In commemoration of the 200th anniversary of Waterloo the games before you today represent an 18th Century take on the battles of Quatre- Bras and Ligny. The games are based around those presented by Charles Grant in his publication 'The Wolfenbuttel War' and of course we shall be using his rules 'The War Game' suitably tweaked for the day.

Over 20 members of the forum are here bringing together  800+ years of wargames experience.
On the Ligny battlefield we have the Prussian Army commanded by Feldmarschall Johann von Rae, over 30 Battalions of Prussia's best, ably supported by 20+ squadrons of cavalry.

Opposing them is the French Army commanded by Marshall Phillipe D'Olley. His army is roughly the same size as the Prussians. However neither army starts at full strength, when and where they arrive may have a significant impact on the battle. The French must take Ligny and cut the road to Quatre Bras in order to win.

On the Quatre Bras field of Battle the Hanoverians and their Allies must blunt the attack of the French Army and prevent them from seizing the cross roads at Quatre Bras. Initially outnumbered the Allies must hang on until reinforcements arrive and then hopefully counter attack the French army.

There will be over 4000 figures deployed across the two tables, from many manufacturers, including Minden Miniatures and Crann Tara miniatures, there are also figures from the private collections of John Ray and Phil Olley. Whilst it is not possible to name all the participants today it is a privilege to welcome some of the doyens of the wargaming world - Charles Grant,  John Ray, Phil Olley, Mark Allen. Jim Purky has flown in specially from America and the man who made Horace St.Paul available to the Seven Years War fraternity - Historian and Wargamer Neil Cogswell.

Feel free to ask anything about the book, the Forum, the game.

I am hooking up with some of the members of the "A Military Gentleman" forum at Partizan, where we are collectively hosting a couple of games on Sunday, featuring Charles S. Grant and his The War-game Rules for our 18th Century games. John Ray will bring a small portion of his vast post-SYW era Prussians and test wills against Phil Olley and his French collection. A number of other members are bringing their own troops, and based on some of the pictures that I have seen on the forum, there will be a lot of superbly painted SYW era troops on the table (in 28mm of course).

Kudos must go to Graham Cummings (Crann Tara Miniatures) for his tireless devotion to organizing the game, its logistics and playing the role of chief cat herder. Without Graham's efforts, this game would not have progressed beyond the idea stage.

For me, the best part of my visit to Partizan will be the opportunity to meet a number of acquaintanences and friends that I have made over the years as  a result of the Internet. I look forward to matching up the faces with the names and having the opportunity to chat with everyone. So if you happen to be going to Partizan, or even thinking about it, please do stop by at the AMG game and say hello.

Griffin Moulds Update
I have a several large boxes of figures on the way from Griffin Moulds, scheduled to arrive tomorrow (hopefully before I leave for the airport). I don't know exactly what is in the box, but Graham Cummings visited Griffin Moulds last week and hinted that some of the new figures will be in this shipment. So I am holding my breath with anticipation. I have also learned that Griffin Moulds has moved to a new location, added more employees to work on the casting part of the business, and made a couple of administrative hires, that collectively, should start to make a big dent in the order backlog and get the regular lead times for castings back to the 3-4 week range.

I should also report that Richard Ansell has started working on the AWI Hessians for the Fife & Drum figure range so we will probably start seeing some pictures of the greens within a couple more months.

All and all, there is much to look forward to in the coming months.

I look forward to meeting more of my blog readers at Partizan.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Battle in the Oak Wood

Overhead view of the fight for the Oak Wood.

The above picture provides a general overview of the action on Turn 12 of the Kolin game. While the Austrian and Prussian infantry vie to control the Oak Wood, a massive cavalry melee continues behind the woods. Should the Prussian cavalry prevail, it would jeopardize the entire Austrian defense of Krechor Hill as the Austrian infantry would be facing Prussian infantry to their front and Prussian cavalry behind them. Austrian cavalry general Serbelloni sees the same thing and so he has committed all of his remaining cavalry to the scrum.
The cavalry battle behind the Oak Wood draws in more and more cavalry from both sides.

While on the other side of the woods, Hulsen continues to press the attack.

Marshal von Daun rushes reinforcements from Sincere's division to Krechor Hill  to support the Austrian right flank.


Monday, May 11, 2015

Emergency help needed for fuzzy primer

I primed a squadron of 12 Austrian cuirassiers yesterday and three of the new Austrian 3-pd cannon models in the Minden range. I was all "primed to paint " them tonight, but to my complete horror, every figure has one side covered with fuzzy black primer

I tried scraping the fuzz off with a new tooth brush in the hope that they could be recovered and reprimed. however, they are not up to snuff and I don't want to spend hours painting the figures only to find that I could not cover up the rough fuzzy surface on one side of the figure.

I'm sure that some of my regular readers have gone through this experience before and I'm hoping that you can give me some advice. I've decided that I need to strip all of the primer off the figures and start anew. So the question is, what is the best way to strip primer off of a figure. I used Armory black primer if this helps. I shall never use black primer again.

I'm going to have a wee dram or two of Highland Park 18 year old Scotch right now. I think that I deserve one right now.

Please leave a comment in the comment section if you have a good method for striping figures or send me an email at

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Grand Cavalry Melee at Kolin

Prussian hussars and DR12 Wurtemberg Dragoon cross swords with the Austrians, east of Krechor.
 I have downloaded some pictures of the grand cavalry melee that took place to the east of Krechor village. This did not happen historically...

Another view of the same melee scrum.

After the casualties and morale tests, few Austrians are left standing.
The next turn of cavalry melee would have been fought on the edge of the table, so the light bulb went on and I pushed one of my back tables forward so as to add an extra 2 feet of depth to the table. I like the way that this worked out.

Several turns later, more Austrian cavalry enters from the bottom of the picture. I shoved my back table up to the main table so that I could stretch the width of the table to better fight this melee.

A better view of the extra table that I pushed forward to extend the width. These are standard school cafeteria tables 2.5ft wide by 6ft long, purchased at Staples.

Seydlitz leads the Prussian cavalry circling around Krecho to the east. IR5 Alt Braunschweig regiment follows.

Several squadrons of the Bayreuth Dragoons (DR5) await their turn to get into the rumble.


Saturday, May 9, 2015

Hulsen's Advance Guard Attacks Krechor

Von Seydlitz leads his cuirassiers into the cavalry melee

After setting up the Kolin terrain and looking at the table for several days, I decided that it was time to haul out the D10 dice and take the scenario out on a test drive. As always, please click on the pictures to enlarge the view (it is worth the clicking effort).

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The game was played using Minden Miniatures, Herb Gundt buildings and trees and my own Der Alte Fritz rules (which are available as a free download on the Fife & Drum Miniatures website.

Overhead view of Hulsen's attack. He has cleared the Croats from Krechor and has sent a brigade of grenadiers around the left to outflank the Austrian infantry of Wied (arriving).

Here are some pictures of Prussian General Hulsen's opening attack on the Austrian right flank near Krechor village. Commentary is provided in the captions.

Prussian regiment Winterfeldt (IR1) tries to press the attack out of the village, but its path is blocked by the Soro Grenadier battalion of the Austrian army.
At the same time, Serbelloni commits his Austrian cavalry in a forlorn hope charge to slow down the Prussian grenadiers to the east of Krechor and to stop the Prussian flank maneuver.
A view of the battlefield to the east of Krechor. Prussian hussars screen off the Croats deployed in Kutlire so that the rest  of the attack can pass without getting shot in the flank.

Wied's Austrian division is the first of the Austrians to arrive on their far right flank between Krechor and Chozenitz.
Hulsen deploys a battery of Prussian 12-pounders that inflict a lot of damage to Wied's forces on the Krechor Hill.

Prussian grenadiers press home the attack near the Oak Wood.
The same action, but from the Austrian point of view.

The first battalion of IR1 Winterfeldt routs through Krechor.

Sincere's division arrives around Turn 8.

A close up view of Sincere's division on the march.

Hulsen rallys the first battalion of IR1 Winterfeld, while the second battalion waits for the traffic jam to clear.

As of late Friday evening, the game has progressed nine turns and both Wied and Sincere's divisions have arrived at Krechor to stem Hulsen's attack.

To the east of Krechor, a massive cavalry melee is developing with both sides feeding ever more squadrons into the action. Seydlitz has brought the Prussian cavalry reserve from the center to all the way on the the left flank and his cuirassiers will soon enter the melee.

Treskow split up is left wing command into two brigades: the IR49 Fusiliers and the Prussian 12-pound battery occupy the front on the Kaiserstrasse between Krechor and Chozenitz; the IR5 Alt Braunschweig regiment continues the original plan of marching around the left or east of Krechor village, adding their weight to the advance of the Prussian grenadiers.

If the Prussian cavalry prevails in the melee, then there will be little to stop the attack on the left to the east of Krechor. This will create a kink or bend in the Austrian defensive position that is now anchored on the Oak Wood.