Above is a pic of Lt. Colonel James Galbraith, Regimental Colour in hand, alongside Bobbie the regimental dog and some of the other "Last Eleven" survivors of the 66th (Berkshire) Regiment, making their last stand in one of the walled gardens just South of Khig village, a few miles West of the Afghan town of Maiwand.
Thursday, May 9, 2013
Just came across a relatively positive piece in the NYTimes book review on the centennial of the original publication of H.G. Welles' LITTLE WARS.
The piece was written by a San Francisco based game designer named Mark Wallace. I found it interesting and a bit insightful. If interested, you can read it here:
Thursday, April 11, 2013
This is a bit of a hobby post, and a bit of a "life in general" post, mashed together.
I have been incredibly busy of late, with good things and not-so-good things, as is usually the case in life.
Over on my Camerone Day blog, I am chronicling the countdown to the 150th Anniversary of the French Foreign Legion's greatest victory/defeat, fought in the dusty ruins of an abandoned hacienda in Mexico, which I plan to commemorate in similar manner to "Maiwand Day," on April 30th, 2013, by refighting the battle with some nice figures on some very nice terrain. Just yesterday I received the completed Hacienda compound, which serves as the centerpiece of this "Alamo"-like last stand.
Earlier today I headed over to visit the only wargame shop left in the San Fernando Valley, at least that I know of, THE LAST GRENADIER, on Hollywood Way in Burbank, just a little South of the airport. I hoped to pick up an Osprey book or two, and maybe a copy of a Wargaming magazine. Over the past 14 years or so, since first moving the Valley from Brooklyn, New York, I've spent a decent amount of time and money in the store. It had been at least a month since I'd visited last, maybe a little more, due to how busy I've been with work and family matters. When I pulled up and parked out front, I was met with a terrible shock, though perhaps not that much of a surprise...
That's all she wrote -- or maybe "all she rolled" in this case -- the place is no more.
I'm not an overly sentimental type, and I've never liked to listen to others pine away for the good old days, when men were men, and writers wrote with pens or pencils or Selectric typewriters, because I've always thought: why not pine away for the even better older days, when writers wrote with feather quill pens on parchment, or mallets and chisels in stone, or -- well, you probably get the idea. But... I couldn't help but feel a tang of tragic sadness that this brick-&-mortar shop would never enable me to scratch my wargaming itch in person again.
It's true, the place had piles of dust atop its piles of dust, and could have done with a clean-up, but I still wish it hadn't done with a final clean-out.
Over the years I bought some good books, and ordered some terrain items, and watched a friend play in a 15mm Napoleonic campaign on one of the several green felt covered gaming tables in back. I guess I wasn't a "regular", since I didn't show up every week, or even really every month, but using American television terminology, I was a "recurring" cast member, as opposed to just a one-time guest-star.
I wish I'd known they were about to close, so I could've stopped in to say goodbye to the guys who worked there, who'd helped me track down some hard-to-find items over the years, including an issue of a British wargaming magazine that featured a photo of my then 10 year-old son playing in an "Uncle" Duke Seifried game at the 2007 Historicon, and a Miniature Building Authority terrain piece which I picked up just in time for my original Maiwand Day game in July 2010. I would have picked up a new Osprey or two, and maybe something else. I think having missed that opportunity is what prompted me to put up this post, which has not much to do with the battle of Maiwand, or the Second Anglo-Afghan War.
Here in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, wargaming will continue without "The Last Grenadier." No one who already plays with toy soldiers -- or board wargames or RPGs -- will stop doing so because they have closed their doors. But there's still something a bit depressing about not having a place in the area where you can go and browse through hobby-related items.
I'm glad the joint was open -- at several different locations -- for as long as it was, and absurd as it may sound, I must say it: long live The Last Grenadier.
Sunday, February 3, 2013
Recently was able to clear a lot of coats & shirts, many of my wife's dresses, and a ton of other stuff out of the closet in my home office, and then had the interior redone with storage shelves all around instead of hanger rods.
I'm hoping this will give me enough storage for ALL MY HOBBY NEEDS... needless to say this may be a somewhat vainglorious hope, but it will still have room for a ton of stuff, some of which I hope to be moving from the rental storage space where it's been sitting since my family and I moved to our new house a little over one year ago. If and when I make progress on this front, I'll post updates here... and perhaps alert the media!
Looks so CLEAN it almost makes me hesitate to cram it full of boxes of figures, terrain pieces, trees, paints, gaming aids, etc., etc., etc.
Almost... but not quite.
Thursday, December 27, 2012
Like one of my favorite fellow bloggers -- Willie Anderson, over at "The Anderson Collection" -- not long ago I was surprised to learn I'd reached the built-in limit for image-storage on this blog-site -- at least "free" image-storage. After sucking it up and signing on to pay a just-above-nominal-monthly-fee to free up a few more mega-bytes of image space, I am returning to blog about building some SANGARS -- defensive positions made from loose rock.
Here's a picture from an April 1878 issue of The Illustrated London News, showing a Gurkha attack on a line of hilltop sangars during the early phase of the Second Afghan War:
And here's an 1878 photograph by John Burke, titled, "Afridi Picket near to Jumrood", which may well be familiar to those of you with an interest in the Second Afghan War, showing a group of Afridi tribesmen gathered around the sangar which likely served as their picket post:
And finally -- to show they still haven't gone out of style -- here's a contemporary photo of a sangar in western sahara:
For a while I've wanted to build some sangars for use in my NWF and Second Afghan War games. This was driven by my knowledge of the importance such defensive works had served in many battles on the Frontier and in Afghanistan, and also by a blog-post made some time ago by JAMES over at his fantastic wargaming blog, "RABBITS IN MY BASEMENT" (click on blog title to visit the site).
With James' kind permission, I am reproducing said post in its entirety -- which includes well-deserved recognition of the legendary John the OFM of The Miniatures Page fame for having come up with the original idea -- here:
The Pathans and British both built sangars in defensive positions. These are roughly semi-circular low walls built of loose rock. I got the idea to make them from "John the OFM" on The Miniatures Page. The base is an obsolete computer CD cut in half. Around the curved edge I lay a bead of Gorrilla Glue (tm) and cover with damp fish tank gravel (bought in the black colour). Gorrilla Glue is interesting stuff. It reacts with water and expands as it sets. The more water the more expansion. Give it 24 hours and then shake off the loose gravel. Repeat to make another layer. Repeat as many times as you want until you get the height desired. I then spread a thin layer of epoxy on the rest of the CD and cover in sand. Some quick painting and drybrushing and there you have it. I use the same technique to make my WW2 shell craters and rubble.
(If you'd like to visit the specific blog-page featuring the above entry, click here: SOLDIERS OF THE QUEEN-EMPRESS PART 5
In fact I built my first several sangars using FISH-TANK GRAVEL, a combination of white glue and super-glue, but only because I had forgotten to buy the above-mentioned GORILLA GLUE. And though these first rocky works turned out quite nice, they required a great deal more time and effort than their Gorilla Glued cousins. I also spackled on a bit of Elmer's Wood Filler, here and there, over the otherwise completed rocky works, to represent spots covered in dirt, fine gravel, &/or dried mud.
For the paint-scheme of the rocks, I DRY-BRUSHED on succeedingly lighter coats of:
1. BLACK - solid base-coat
2. CHOCOLATE BROWN - very heavy dry-brush
3. HONEYCOMB (Delta Ceramcoat CARAMEL color) - medium dry-brush
4. SANDSTONE (Delta Ceramcoat PALE TAN color) - light dry-brush
5. BUTTERCREAM (Delta Ceramcoat OFF-WHITE color) -- barest hint of a dry-brush
For the semi-circles of ground-cover, I skipped the black and started off with chocolate brown, so they'd blend in better with the ground-cover of my terrain-boards -- except for one pair of sangars which I planned to use atop my rocky hills, those I base-coated in solid black, so they'd blend into the surface of my similarly-painted hills.
The first thing to do is CUT your old CD/CD-ROM/DVD in half. Use any straight-edge, and a utility knife, X-acto blade, or similar.
Next is filling in the small gap at the center of the straight edge, so you have a complete semi-circle base to work with. This can be done using almost any flat material, an off-cut of plasticard, a piece of a small piece of a laminated container, etc...
Next I added a thin layer of Wood Filler, which I knew, once it was dry, would do a better job as the surface to glue sand and pebbles onto than the smooth plastic of the CD itself...
Next I added a bead of white glue around the curved edge of the semi-circle...
And started placing fish-tank gravel piece by piece...
Then a second layer to add depth...
Then add more glue to the top and another layer of pebbles...
After putting some figures in position, I felt my sangars still needed more height, so added a few more layers of pebbles, using white glue in some spots and super-glue in others...
Once they had enough height, I decided I should add another row of gravel to the front at ground level, in order to "roughen-up" the edge, making it a bit less perfectly round and smooth...
After removing the tape, I spackled on some Wood Filler...
Next I used white glue to add some ballast/fine gravel for ground-cover, to match the texture of my terrain-boards...
Decided I wanted to "roughen-up" the rear straight-edge of the piece, same as I'd done to the curved front edge. Used a strip of tape, then put a bead of white glue on the edge and sprinkled on more ballast...
For additional adhesion, I always use Woodland Scenics SCENIC CEMENT (watered-down white glue) applied with an eyedropper to seal ballast to base...
Next up, adding PAINT...
(3) CARAMEL (Delta Ceramcoat "Honeycomb"):
For sangar #2, I decided to do skip the black base-coat on the ground-cover, and go with BROWN, for a closer match with my terrain-boards, as opposed to my rocky hills...
Side-by-side you get a good idea of the difference:
The second one of each version coming off the assembly-line...
After making my first 4 sangars, I FINALLY managed to buy some GORILLA GLUE -- the special material that formed the CORNERSTONE of the entire building process when it was first described by John the OFM and then James from "Rabbits in My Basement" low those several years ago!
When I got to the ground-cover part of the process on this pair, I decided to try something faster and easier than adding a thin layer of Wood Filler to increase the absorbtion of the smooth plastic surface. Instead I just cut out & glued down some scrap-paper, which worked just as well...
Some pics of the finished products:
...and a few more:
A somewhat formidable line of rocky defensive works...
One last funny WORK-IN-PROGRESS pic -- no doubt the most colorful sangar in the history of the frontier:
For anyone interested, here's a link to a brief but IMHO interesting discussion on the applicability of the term "sangar" to British military operations of the 19th, 20th, & early 21st Centuries, on the Victorian Wars Forum: SANGAR DISCUSSION