Der Resin Kavalier

Monday, June 25, 2018

Recruiting an Army, Part 2

Recruiting a 54mm Army (Part 2)

or, Build an Army, and They Will Come


In my last post I discussed some of the factors and decisions that have to be made before embarking on 54mm building and painting sprees. I made some suggestions on where to start and what to consider, not the least of which are era and rules. Now let's take a look at what's available. Unlike smaller scales where the variety of figures and equipment is mind-boggling, for 54's -- not so much!  Let's take a look at what's out there for Horse and Musket gamers.

The most extensive line readily available is Armies in Plastic (AIP). They can be found at many Hobby Shops (both online and brick-and-mortar) as well as directly from the manufacturer. The line is extensive although keep in mind that more often than not you are getting the same figures but in different colored plastic. For example, the figures in the SYW Prussians/SYW French are the same, but one is blue, the other grey. It will be the paint job that will distinguish them.

Additionally, although 16 figures are in the box, you are getting 8 poses. This presents a couple of practical issues. For example I have in front of me the two bags of figures from the French and Indian War French Army (5542). Each bag contains the following: 1-Officer waving a sword; 1-Drummer standing; 1-NCO with Halberd waving his hat; 1-kneeling firer; 1-standing firer; 1-infantryman, running, musket at the ready; 1-infantryman, walking, musket at port; and 1-infantryman, standing, doing pretty much nothing. With two bags to a box, if I want 12 figures doing the same thing, you will need 6 boxes. Even then, you have 11 each drummers,officers, and NCO's left over. But on the other hand you have enough identical figures for up to five 12-man units. Hmmm...

 Artillery? It's not available. Although if you are not too picky, the American Revolution line of artillery would work. Again, it depends on the paint job.

Cavalry will be a problem. Der Resin Kavalier (above) is one of AIP's American Revolution Cavalry, painted to resemble a dragoon from one of the North German States. The uniform I painted was inspired by the ill-fated Brunswick Dragoons, part of Burgoyne's Saratoga debacle. It's not quite accurate but to those who might complain: "Hey, we're dealing with toy soldiers here, not collections."

Well next time I'll go into some of the other manufacturers like IMEX, A Call to Arms, and HaT.
Until then, TTFN!

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Recruiting an Army, Part 1

Recruiting a 54mm Army

or, Build an Army, and They Will Come! (Part 1)

Among the comments to my last post was a question about building an army for a small battle such as the one depicted. Specifically, I was asked what figures I would use for either the SYW or the Napoleonic Era. Now arguably, this should be a simple answer but upon reflection, there are other considerations. What tactical level do we want to play? What rules do we want to use? How historical do we want to make this? Is this a low key game with a couple of friends, or is it something you want to show at a local convention or club night?

I recently picked up a book by Neil Thomas called ONE-HOUR WARGAMES and published by Pen & Sword. It is available from a particular online seller in both digital and print editions.  I mention this because the author answers many of these questions in the course of the book (it is a easy read and you can read as many or as few parts as you wish). One of the most useful is how he describes the armies: SIX UNIT armies, FOUR UNIT armies, etc. This provides a plan, if you will, on just what you're going to need, and it's generic enough to do it "your way". It also includes rules for a number of periods. They are basic but would get the job done.

One particular set of rules that I like for 54's, and they were even written for 54's is All the King's Men written by Ken Cliffe. As of yesterday, his website is still up and these rules, plus a skirmish set (All the Queen's Men) can be downloaded for free. I find them easy enough to learn quickly but challenging enough to give a good game. I won't mention that I've modified a few parts to "improve" them (at least from my perspective).

Units are relatively small: 12 figures + 2 supernumeraries (an officer and flag bearer) for line, grenadiers, and militia; 6 figures + 2 for light infantry, rifles and cavalry; 4/5 figures + 2 for artillery. The rules also have supplemental organizations for particular situations.

Using Neil Thomas' x-unit armies, I would suggest for the following for a generic SIX UNIT army (the smallest I think feasible): 3 Line Units, 1 Light Unit, 1 Cavalry Unit, 1 Artillery Unit, plus one or two mounted commanders. That's about 66 figures, which is doable over a relatively short period of time (of course, I'm retired so it's easy for me to say that).

Now where to get the figures? I'll go over that in my next post.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Huzzah! 2018

Recently at Huzzah! 2018, I tested out a new (for me anyhow) set of rules, Honours of War, for use with 54mm figures. Now, in truth they are designed for the Seven Years War, but I've played enough AWI and SYW games in the last few decades to realize that Horse and Musket rules generally work well for horse and musket armies. Every set covers four basics: movement, firing, melee, and morale. The rest I would assert, is commentary (but that's a post for another time!)

An Osprey publication, they were not specifically designed for large figures but did have, available for download, rules adaptations of 28-30mm figures. Ranges and movement distance were roughly compatible with my primary set for this scale (All The King's Men), and since the author claimed that basing was not critical, I figured, what the heck, let's give it a go.

I had originally planned a one-on-one game with two (no doubt enthusiastic) players. Well, four could work also and so it began. The rules worked as expected with a few modifications. The mechanisms were easy to learn, and the results were if not realistic, certainly reasonable. Bottom line: they would probably work better with smaller scales although the participants all seemed to enjoy themselves. I am posting some pictures of the opening positions. The figures are mostly IMEX and AIP, with the cavalry from the late and sorely missed All the King's Men. The flags are from Adolph Ramos (highly recommended!).

As always, your comments are welcome.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Introduction and Welcome

Since I was a boy, toy soldiers have been a part of my life. As a young lad, most of my excess capital (which wasn't much) would be spent on either comic books (SGT Rock of Easy Company was a particular favorite), or toy soldiers. In my teens, my friend Tom and I discovered Jack Scruby and his extensive line of metal miniatures, a revelation to be sure. But more importantly, we discovered his set of war game rules, Fire and Charge. That was around 1967. Now, fifty plus years later, we still game together, although our horizons and gaming interests have broadened considerably from those Fire and Charge games. For after what seemed like hours of maneuver, it would come down to a giant melee, usually in the middle of the table, with the result resting on the roll of a single die. Most of our friends by that time had left such things behind. In truth, Tom and I thought we were about the only war gamers in America.

But then, just like the Beatles, Rolling Stones, and other British rock bands had invaded just a couple of years before, the name Donald F. Featherstone started showing up in some of the local bookstores. Tom got a copy of his Wargames and Advanced Wargames, which I borrowed of course. New vistas suddenly opened up.

Not long after, Dick Bryant and the fellows of the New England Wargamers Association invited us to join them on their Wednesday night games at Dick's home. I started helping put the old Courier together, and the rest, as they say is history. We've lost a couple since then, but I see most of the others on a fairly regular basis. Indeed, the annual Huzzah! convention in Portland, ME is a reunion I look forward to each year.

When I started playing with toy soldiers as a child, most were 54mm (not that I ever questioned it). The first Scurby's I bought were smaller, 30mm. Then we pretty much went to 25mm, then 15, and ultimately for a brief time 1/285th micro. Perhaps it's a function of age, but everything is returning full circle: 25's have become 28's; 30's are now 40's. Me? I'm back to 54's, hence the name of this blog: Der Resin Kavalier, a play on Richard Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier (an opera not quite as appreciated as some).

So, we're off. I've never blogged before, so expect a rocky start. My goal is basically to spread the word on the marvelous world of plastic toy soldiers: 54's primarily, but 40's will show up.  There is so much out there and more coming every day. I'll talk about painting, manufacturers, and of course war games. Your input is welcome. And for those of you retired like like me, remember something a good friend once told me: Retirement is like a second childhood, except now, you are legal and have money (at least some) to buy the stuff you really want!