Archive for May, 2014

Collectors Exhib 01a

Just closing at Kettering Museum, Kettering Collects is an exhibition looking at the history and potential of collecting –  from the philanthropic amateurs whose collections have passed into public ownership as today’s Museums and Galleries … to how museums work and what motivates today’s collectors.

One of the rooms showcases 4 sample exhibits from the collections of  local enthusiasts … pop-up books, Jack Daniels souvenirs and memorabilia, die-cast cars and, of course, toy soldiers.

I was delighted that my collection made the cut and so had to work out how to fill the cabinet I had been allocated.

Collectors Exhib 02a(Kettering Collects at the Manor House Museum)

The challenge, of course, was to distill what I have so it shows toy soldier collecting to best advantage, demonstrates the full breadth of military interests and, of course, reflects what I like (in the end, it is my story to tell).

Collectors Exhib 02

Fortunately, my collection is very diverse and covers many of the important periods of history in most of the popular collector/wargame scales.   So even if it was only to be a few figures, I wanted to get something of everything in.

But I think, all along, 3 components struck me as essential … some old Britains plastics (because my wargaming story starts with them); my Bosworth Wars of the Roses 54mm figures (as they are local and topical as well as quite eye-catching) … and some of  the former Deryck Guyler 30mm flats collection (as they are so collectible – and these are the figures that put the Society of Ancients in my mind when I saw them on Blue Peter as a youngster) …

Collectors Exhib 06(Britains/Herald Gordon Highlanders – my first wargame soldiers – and still looking good after nearly 50 years service)

Collectors Exhib 04a(in  front of the obelisk and Sphinx … Egyptian War Chariots – 30mm flats originally part of Deryck Guyler’s collection)

Collectors Exhib 05a(more flats in the background, Bosworth 54s to the left – Henry Tudor and William Stanley – 15mm Goths in front)

I managed to include, from the ancient world Egyptians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans and Goths;  HYW  and WotR medievals; the New Model at Naseby; some sample Marlburian, Napoleonic and Colonial figures … plus a Tiger, a T55 and a Humvee to bring us almost up to date.

The figures I chose included 2mm, 6mm, 10mm, 15mm, 20mm, 28mm, 30mm flats, 54mm and 90mm.   Inevitably, me being the exhibitor, the majority were 10s, 15s, flats and 54s.

Collectors Exhib 04b(6mm Colonial and Marlburians figures between – Left – 2mm Romans – and – Right – 10mm Sarmatians)

Collectors Exhib 05(10mm Carthaginians between 15mm ECW and 30mm Ancient Egyptian flats)

Collectors Exhib 05b(15mm 20th Cent vehicles in front of ancients and a stand of 20mm Napoleonics)

Collectors Exhib 03(Centre picture, some of the 90mm plastic figures I used in the show version of my Anno Domino game ‘Greyhounds in the Slips’)

This is the last weekend before I get my toys back after 3 months on show.   Although I had had plenty of positive feedback, I dropped by the Museum, yesterday, just  to reassure myself  that everything was still looking good – and arrange for the reboxing.


Yes, I was pleased.

We went for the ‘more is more’ approach because of the space available and the style of the exhibition, and I really do hope that some of the constant flow of youngsters they take through the Museum will find in it the sort of bug that I got from seeing Deryck’s figures and discovering Charge! all those years ago.

For those who like to worry over the supposed greying of their hobby, all I can say is you cannot make people play wargames or collect toy soldiers (and nobody made us do it all those years ago) … what you can do is get your collections out there at shows, fairs, Museum exhibitions and the like, so today’s youngsters can see them and be inspired by them.

Remember, the purveyors of cheap thrills, mind addling video games and junk hobbies will always ensure that their wares are shown to the market and with as much razzmatazz and gloss as the advertising buck can deliver – so if wargaming and toy soldier collecting are to have a chance, we have to get them on show too.

Many thanks to Ellie and the team at the Manor House Museum for giving me the chance  to put mine on show.

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Warsaw 1920 01

Warsaw 1920 was a higher level multiplayer wargame of the defence of Poland’s capital.    It included Operational Level command (Bob and John with maps and messages downstairs) and tactical resolution (6 players with toy soldiers on a big table upstairs) …

Ian Drury and Richard Brooks umpired and were kept busy all day.

I took the role of Franciszek Latinik in command of Polish 1st Army, tasked with holding Warsaw and somehow tying the Russians down on the Narew/Bug line so that Nigel (as Sikorsky/5th Army) could counter attack round their Western flank.

My Eastern flank was secured by Alex (Roja/2nd Army).

Warsaw 1920 03(The Horror!   Somewhere out there lay Tukhachevsky’s ferocious Red Legions – and I had just a strung out line to stop them)

The game started with map moves on a pin board in headquarters until active umpiring identified that formations were hitting contact ranges – and then, one by one, we were called up to the tactical level and started putting toys out.

Warsaw 1920 02(here is the map to table interface … most of my units/flags are in Warsaw – the Western sector was very thinly held)

The line of the Narew/Bug could only be crossed by marked bridges or in the BUA squares – and although most of the Russians threatening the sector were the other side of the line, there was a weak point that I had to keep control of, stretching me forward.

These three bridges were key in stemming the flow across the Narew (as although there are plenty of the lighter blue rivers, they are not going to hold the enemy up).

Warsaw 1920 04(you can see how Warsaw is defended to the north by the Narew and Bug rivers … the game map shows how this requires me to hold the three bridges – and the gap between my flags which shows that I don’t )

Once the game goes tactical, it is very hard to plug these command gaps and I never did manage to concentrate the troops defending my sector.

Indeed, the movements that called me to the table were precisely against this sector, as occasional over flights confirm … 1st Army is in a lot of trouble.

Warsaw 1920 05(contact!: 4 figures represent a typical brigade)

My game quickly degenerated into a dogfight for this sector with a seemingly endless flood of Russians.

Two things saved me … the action in the game is card driven and the Russians stall on some cards (although I couldn’t stop them, ‘friction’ could)  … and there was no threat directly from the North (so as Roja’s North Eastern defence collapsed back into the City’s entrenchments, it freed me to feed my reserve units in North West of the City to bottle the enemy up on his bridgeheads).  Nice one, Alex!

Warsaw 1920 06(the blast markers show where the Russians have burst through the centre of my sector defence – but you can see a line of 3 brigades who have come out of Warsaw trying to drive them back to the bridges)

This is pretty much how the game ended … we had planned another day’s action (in which an Eastern counter attack would match our Western encirclement, so trapping Tukhachevsy’s armies) but the pace at which we completed the 2 hr turns was never quite brisk enough to take us to the final day.

We played enough to decide the the Poles had held Warsaw but not enough to see if our plan to win the Vistula campaign would be decisive.

Warsaw 1920 07(some more general shots of the toys on the table 15mm, mostly Peter Pig … the plane is a 1/144 from Shapeways)

Warsaw 1920 08(2nd Army falls back into Warsaw drawing the Russians into our trap and relieving 1st army’s reserves so they could be feed into the Western sector)

I think, as a muliplayer game bridging the Operational to Tactical divide, this game would have worked perfectly had we all been familiar enough to churn through the turns quick enough – as it was, some players (me included) needed a little too much Umpire engagement and so we were left just short of a conclusion when we needed to debrief.

But it was clear enough what would have been achieved had we been as adept at the beginning as we were at the end (isn’t that so often the case …?) ..

Nevertheless, this game ticked a lot of boxes and I appreciate all the work that went into staging it.

As a biographical note, Latinik was one of the few survivors from this war, most of the officers on both sides falling to the grim policies of either Stalin or Hitler.   RIP.   I hope we honour them by remembering their part in the history of their countries.

Warsaw 1920 09(Polish 1st Army counter attacks in the River Narew sector)

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May Day

In addition to the usual parades …


… Stavka has also been able to send troops to the frozen front line … in the shape of some new ski troops from Battlefront/Flames of War.

Ski review 05b

You can see more of these on the reviews page (currently the feature).

I hope to add a few more items for the Winter War/Leningrad front before the big thaw (it will shortly be time to deploy the Summer Germans again) …

14 - 1a

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