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.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

October Surprise...

Well, it's been WAY TOO LONG since I've put a new post on this blog!  I've been very busy with work and family stuff, and I've had some problems with the new "Photos" system which replaced "iPhoto" and basically "shares" pictures from your phone with iCloud and your computer instead of the old-fashioned "downloading" of pics.  Needless to say I'm a bit of an old-fashioned guy, and I'm still struggling a bit with this new system.

On the bright side, hobby-wise, I've had a visit from a fellow blogger over in the UK, the illustrious Willie Anderson, who was kind enough to let me trap him in my house for a couple of hours, and even presented me with several generous gifts, including a trio of obscene Highlanders from his Scottish homeland! Willie, my sincere thanks once again!

(I heartily recommend CLICKING HERE to pop over and visit Willie's fantastic, "The Anderson Collection," blog which showcases his incredibly wide-ranging collection of brilliant armies and wonderful terrain!)

I've also taken delivery of a bunch of interesting books on various aspects of the Second Afghan War, which I hope to post about in the near future, and a few days ago I got a package with my last batch of converted figures (which I did a post on last December, which you can see by clicking HERE) back in the mail.  This painted versions of these figures were a long-time coming, but as my favorite commercial painter had officially retired from painting figures for money, and had agreed to come out of retirement to help me out, so I'm just VERY HAPPY he managed to get them done -- which is the reason behind the title of this blog-post "OCTOBER SURPRISE" -- since the figures SURPRISED me by arriving just before the end of OCTOBER!  Any allusion to the current political campaigns here in the USA will neither be confirmed nor denied.

And so, without further ado, here's the painted versions, hope you enjoy seeing them almost as much as I enjoy having them!

As you will see, there's a mix of historic and fictional subjects, but sooner or later each will find their way to serving as key elements in actual game scenarios.

1)  First up, from the fictional category, are Jakin & Lew, Kipling's drummerboys from the 'Fore and Aft:

2)  A recreation of the real cover of an 1880 copy of the Iluustrarted London News, showing an officer of the 92nd Highlanders and what I assume to be a British Army reverend chaplain watching as a pair of Afghans are marched past en route to their execution:

3)  Third stands right on the cusp between historic and fictional -- Mulai Ahmed er Raisuli, AKA: Sean Connery (in John Milius' THE WIND AND THE LION, one of the greatest movies ever made):

4)  Fictional, but may yet serve well in a purely historic game -- the "Sergeants Three" from George Stevens' 1939 GUNGA DIN (another of the greatest movies ever made):

...joined here by the better man than I, Din himself (aka: Sam Jaffe):

5)  Totally real but useful on historic and fictional tabletops alike, as I like to add details of day-to-day civlian reality to my battlefields whenever appropriate:

6)  Pure history, in the form of a WWI Wargames Foundry British officer interogating a German Prisoner, now converted into General Frederick Roberts seated in front of his tent on the road to Kabul in Fall 1879 (about the time of the Oct. 6th battle of Charasiab):

7)  Also straight out of history, though dressed in only an educated-guess approximation of clothing, is the rather ill-fated, short-term Amir of Afghanistan, Yaqub Khan, pictured after turning himself into General Roberts in the aftermath of the massacre of Major Cavagnari and his Guides escort in Kabul.  It is noted that General Roberts had the Amir treated with the utmost regard and assigned several particularly large Highlanders to serve as his "bodyguards" in the British camp:

8.  Back to fiction with our same Highland NCO now about to be strangled by the historic anomaly of a c.1840 THUG on c.1885 North-West Frontier (but who cares!):

9.  And finally, again potentially useful for either historic or fictional scenarios, a seated British officer or correspondent, busy drawing, perhaps a map for land navigation purposes... or a sketch for later publication back home:

That's it for now -- HAPPY HALLOWEEN -- and I hope to be back with a new post before too long!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Kabul Cantonment c.1840 completed - FINALLY!!!

I think I started building this model in very late January or early February, and I put up my previous blog post -- detailing construction of the first 3 pieces -- on March 11th, about a month-and-a-half ago.  In a way this terrain piece feels like it has taken me forever to build, but I've been pretty busy with work, and my family took a brief vacation over Spring Break, so maybe it didn't take all that long after all.  The nature of the detailing of the "duckboard" walkways and support planks lining the interior of the earthworks made this a rather time-consuming project, but when I look back on what it took to build my "garden wood-chip" rocky hills, this was not really too bad.  I think the difference is that those hills are all pretty big, and cut a somewhat impressive and imposing figure, while these entrenchments are much slighter in appearance.  Still, even if they're relatively small, I'm happy to say I think they turned out rather nicely.  They could easily have been built in much less time, using a less detailed approach, and still have looked nice, but needless to say, for better and worse, that's just not really my style.

I've had some computer and iPhone photo issues, which helped keep me from posting more timely "WIP" updates as I was making progress.  For this post I am just showing pics of the finished product, but some day soon I will return with one of my over-wrought step-by-step posts, showing way too much of the building process!  The working hinged gates were a challenge, but I think they turned out pretty well in the end, and at least so far are standing up well to use.  I hit some other bumps in the road as well, but I'll save those for the illustrated "How To" post in the future.

Now I'm really itching to get some c.1840s British troops, whether converted or factory-made, painted up, so I can see what this thing looks like occupied by historically appropriate figures.  Towards that end I made a purchase on TMP of a collection of 48 unpainted Perry French "Retreat From Moscow" Infantry and dismounted Cavalry, which I plan to convert and paint up as British Infantry and dismounted Bengal Horse Artillery for the, "Retreat From Kabul" -- only in this scenario, rather than retreat, they will be attempting to fight their way to the Bala Hissar.  The Perry figures are quite splended, and I think by making a few head-swap conversions using Carlist BAL heads, they will turn out really great.

All of which will still leave me struggling with the last big challenge for this project: WINTER!

Will I permanently Winterize... or just sprinkle model snow over everything?  At the very least I'm certain I will use snow effects when I base those British figures.  Since they are all wearing greatcoats and wrapped up in blankets, it would be pointless not to.  But beyond that I still don't know.

Anyway, that's more than enough meandering, so without further ado, on to some pics of the completed British Kabul Cantonments, c.1840-1842...

View of the completed entrenched encampment, seen from the East...

(NOTE: the road to Kohistan was in reality on the opposite, Western, side of the Cantonments, but it worked better on this side for the layout.  There was however a second Gate on the Eastern side of the Camp -- same as in the model above -- which is the gate the British exited from en route to their doomed march South.)

Reverse view, from the West...

(I may build another 2 round corner Bastions, another pair of short straight pieces and another gate, so I'll have a truly "complete" Cantonment to use for various other scenarios.  I've been encouraged to do so by a close gaming friend, and I agree it would make a lot of sense, but... it's a lot of work!)

I made a point of making the gate high enough for camels and elephants, both of which were present with the Anglo-Indian army stationed outside Kabul during the First Afghan War... 

(NOTE: As I said above, I'll post again with all the details
on the build, but in case anyone is dying to know, I used
dollhouse hinges, bought at my local hobby shop)

A Union Jack and c.1840 version of the HEIC flag, courtesy of Rick O'Brien, aka: "FLAG DUDE"...

The Cantonments were really filled with barracks buildings constructed by the British, not tents, but I don't have any "Indian Bungalow" style buildings to use for that purpose.  I may buy or attempt to build a few.  It is howver possible, maybe even probable, that when the walls were first completed, but before the barracks were built, tents were used to house the troops.  Anyway, as temporary model housing goes, they pass muster in my book...

Flanking the guard posts on both sides of the gate are lined with mud-brick walls...

(NOTE: I may paint over the hinges with BLACK
and then GUNMETAL or STEEL or even BRASS.)

North-East corner Bastion...

South-East corner Bastion...

A benefit of designing and building this project in component parts rather than one big permanently modelled piece is that in the future it will be possible to rearrange the pieces in different ways for other scenarios, a sloppy version of which can be glimpsed here...

Back to the front gate...

And one last view rearranged for the scenario...

Last thing to say is that these past few months I've mentioned to my gaming friends several times that when I was done building this things, we'd get together again to refight the "Bala Hissar or Bust!" game -- which makes me even happier for having finished it!