Sunday, 23 July 2017

Battle plans and more Dapol buildings.

With the total of painted figures now exceeding 400, it's clearly time to get some figures on the table for a first battle. From the start of this project it has been my intention to use the old WRG rules with which I played so many memorable games 30 odd years ago. I retain much of the rules to memory, and find no issue with the requirement for lots of morale or 'Reaction' tests as once you strip the many factors down to just those relevant to the ECW it's really not that bad. On many occasions a roll of the dice and quick look at the units situation will determine a fail or pass result after a few games. Royalist Horse are particularly difficult to handle, and that first sight of the enemy test can often see them take off in an 'uncontrolled advance'.

At the gallop, charge!

 Must give him a clean up!
I have been giving much thought to how I want to fight my battles, and have decided that I'm going to fight a fictitious loose campaign based on my local area in Kent. This part of the country did not see much action during the First Civil War, only later in 1647 did the war arrive down here on a small scale, with actions around the Medway, Maidstone and Leeds Castle being recorded. But my armies are early 1642 period, with heavy muskets on rests and armoured pikemen etc, so I'm going to use this old wall map of Kent that hangs in our hallway as a basis for a campaign. This fits the theme of the project, being very much influenced by the battle described in the Airfix ECW book.

Lots of ancient churches down here on the Romney Marsh, my village of Dymchurch (11th century) can be glimpsed on the coast at right, above Romney.

To this end I have been sorting out suitable terrain items and will be making them compatible with the WRG rules, where for example a 'Small Hamlet' may be taken a terrain choice and features just a couple of houses on a single base. Each base will be able to hold a regiment of foot or horse. IN addition there will be enclosed fields available, or a large church with walls etc, all very practical and simple. To date I have made 3 thatched cottages, a country Inn and a church, all in '00' scale and have a second Inn model that I plan to expand into a small manor House with walled grounds. The Dapol kits are cheap as chips, very easy to build - although the church was more challenging- and I put together the 3 cottages below in about 45 minutes yesterday whilst watching an episode of Midsomer Murders on the laptop.

I still have a couple more regiments of horse bought ready painted to rebase, this one is next and as you can see they are much cleaner than previous arrivals so will require nothing more than removing from the bases and onto my standard size horse bases, 25mm frontage rather than 20mm as they are far too squashed on the narrower base. I'll probably repaint  the sashes in Tawny Orange to represent a Parliamentarian regiment of 240 horse.

Next up for re basing, the officer (second from left in above image) is not a Hinchliffe model and I don't think he's a Minifig either, but he's a fine little figure anyway. Figure second from right will become the standard bearer.

Finally for now those Minifigs 'Clubmen' have been re based and retouched to form two bands of reluctant villagers with improvised weapons ready to defend their land. I left them very much as was, only painting in missing collars here and there and re varnishing them with my standard satin as they were TOO shiny. Flags were supplied as free extras when I ordered my flags from Wargame Designs and they make a nice addition to the units with their slogans. The officer figures are wonderful examples of the Minifigs ECW range so they just had to remain with the units. These are rated E class under the rules and will probably not hang about in a fight very long, but can add a touch of unpredictability when dicing to see which side they will support (if any!).

I'm still not happy with the look of the bases!

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Movement bases, Ironsides and Clubmen.

I started this collection with the intention of using them to fight battles with, not just sit on the display shelves, but it has quickly become apparent that the WRG basing style was going to involve an awful lot of moving of figures based singly and in twos. After much racking of the old brainbox, and having determined NOT to rebase, I decided that the best solution would be to place each unit on a sabot, or more accurately a movement tray. This is the solution I came up with up and having done the first few pike and shot units I'm very happy with things. Each pike block of 12 figures is placed upon a single large base with the 3 command figures sitting behind them, a 10mm strip is left along the rear edge for a unit designation label. The musket sub units (under WRG rules) are each on single bases, this has made a massive difference to my ability to shift the things about. Each Horse regiment - I now have 15 such varying in number between 8 and 12 figures - will sit upon a single large base in two ranks. I will engage the wonderful Tony Barr of East Riding Miniatures to lazer cut all the required bases, although I have cut these first few by hand from a stack of 100mm x 100mm MDF squares bought ages ago from ERM. Overall I'm happy with the look and feel, they retain an Old School charm but with a practical basing system that will enable me to use micro casualty dice to record losses.

Latest Horse Regiment re based.

A quick note on the WRG rules casualty system - I'll be using the alternative casualty system found in the back of the rules rather than recording losses up to 20 before removing a figure. This is quite simple and requires no book keeping and carrying over.

Surely one of the most iconic of the Hinchliffe ECW range is the 'Roundhead' trooper charging? The latest unit of such up for restoration are shown below, 15 figures and they include a wonderful hand painted flag, a trumpeter conversion and a magnificent falling trooper, his horse down on it's front legs and the rider being thrown forward. All have had their original swords replaced with flattened pins, skillfully done, and arms bent into different positions. There is just a little chipped paint here and there to touch up and two swords to replace but otherwise they are in lovely condition. They have been given an initial clean with water and soft brush and will be re based as per usual.

Also in the pipeline will be another Regiment of Foot, this time with pikes forward. I might need to add a few more musketeer figures to complete this one, but it's another project I will enjoy.

I had been searching for a source of Clubmen and these lovely old Minifigs seemed to fit the bill perfectly. They will also get the once over and I'll add a few musket carrying figures to them, but they have a unique charm of their own and fit well with my Hinchliffes. Aim is for a 20 figure unit with mixed improvised weapons.

Finally, I keep finding the odd unknown little gem among the figures bought Painted from Ian Hinds, I have no idea what these are, but I absolutely love them! Any ideas on the skinny chap especially?

Friday, 14 July 2017

Dirty Dragoons, Dapol church & ECW25.

With the family (wife, 3 daughters and 2 Grand daughters) away to Brighton for a few days this week I have been able to make good progress on the ECW front. Having put together the Dapol Country Inn last week I thought I would tackle the Church. I had seen it on 'Strykers' Hinton Hunt blog and read his account of putting the kit together so decided to do mine. It was definitely more of a struggle than the previous kit, and as in Ian's case I ended up with a few gaps that will need to filled before painting, but overall it's a very nice little model, slightly underscale for 25mm but I was keen to avoid huge model buildings for this project and they fit the retro theme nicely. I still have three of the thatched cottages and a second Inn kit to do, the latter will become a country manor house.

I took delivery of another Horse unit yesterday from Ian Hinds, this time a Dragoon regiment. As previously it arrived quite dirty, but I know that with a good clean up some excellent painting skills emerge so I'm not letting that put me off. Looking through the Hinds Figures ECW lists I also picked out two more units obviously by the same skilled painting hand as previous purchases and they are now on their way to me, another 24 Horse. All will get the usual clean up and rebasing before joining the ranks of my collection, I must now try to resist buying more as the total number of painted cavalry will be 145 with the new arrivals!

Amazing what emerges after a good clean!

Ooh shiny!

Having been looking for a source of 'Clubmen' I also took the opportunity to purchase a unit of 18 painted Minifigs as Hinchliffe never made these, but more on these in due course.

On the infantry front I now have 5 completed Regiments of pike and shot, all the pike blocks have now been increased to 12 figures in 3 ranks with command standing in front, the muskets varying from 16 to 24 per regiment. This gives me nice big units ideal for WRG rules where 1 figure represents 20 men. The largest so far is this Red Regiment totalling 39 figures and I really like the mass appeal and the depth of the pike block.

The Blue pike block featured in my last post required 4 more pikemen to bring it up to 12. I had ascertained that the casting was ECW25 'Pikeman charging' which was not a code I had in my old collection. The base tells me that this sculpt was made in 1980, a couple of years after the bulk of the range was made by Peter Gilder in 1978. It's clearly by a different hand but fits well with the earlier sculpts and I note that several of the latter codes have the same slightly chunkier look to them. I'm keen to find out more about this and would welcome any information on the subject, I think a good starting point will be to look into Peter Gilders history to see what he was doing with the range between 1978 and 1980.

I'm currently focusing on building up the artillery before returning to more Foot.

Stop press! The figures referred to above just arrived and once again I'm blown away by the quality. The hand painted flag is exceptional and I take my hat off to the artist who painted it, it clearly is the same hand as others in my collection. Not much to do with these beyond re basing to match, possibly a slight touch up of the flag bearer.