Travels with a Rogue

A small piece of the web dedicated to Gen. Mikhail Skobolev (the White General), toy soldiers (any period), history, politics and books circa. 1850-1900.

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Location: Frederick, Maryland, United States

There was an earlier day in my life when I had plenty of time and no money for my hobby, now I have money for my hobby and not so much time. I never stopped playing with toy soldiers "much to my mothers chagrin" exchanging the sandbox, green armymen and rocks for Donald Featherstone's book Wargames, AWI soldiers from the back of a comic book, dice and rulers. Those early games were great fun and very exciting. Eventually I graduated to more complicated systems, better miniatures, headaches, rule arguments and basically not a lot of fun. I thought about ditching the hobby altogether. I realized recently that I like a good game of toy soldiers. I like the look of toy soldiers and I like the way a simple game plays. I like the trusty d6.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Russo-Turkish War 1877 -- Osprey Publishing

Title: The Russo-Turkish War 1877
Author: Ian Drury
Illustrator: Raffaele Rugguri
Publisher: Osprey Publishing
ISBN: 1855323710

This book was first published in 1994. It's a good starting point for students of this conflict. There are some typographical and factual errors although nothing to detract from the basic value of this book. In fact at $16 new and approximately $10 used I consider it a good value.

The book gives a brief history of the war and follows the major campaigns and army movements. The siege of Plevna is covered in excellent depth for a 48 page book and the battles of Shipka Pass are given proper attention. The Turkish attempted breakout from the eastern fortresses, the crossing of the Danube, the siege of Kars and a few other battles of this conflict are mentioned briefly. I wonder what could be done with this subject as an Osprey Essential History or Campaign.

The strength of this offering is in the color plates and the numerous illustrations. These are first rate and do a fine job of conveying the look of the armies and soldiers at war. There's excellent detail in the plates and descriptions for the uniforms of all of the combatants. A beginner will easily find enough research provided in this book to get started painting. Unfortunately there's almost no information regarding standards, lance pennons or the color used for limbers, caissons and wagons for each army.

The Russian and Turkish starting order of battle is covered in excellent detail. The information on the Romanian and Bulgarian armies is limited. A color plate is provided of an Egyptian soldier and brief mention is made regarding the contingents deployment. The reader will need to search other volumes for detailed deployment data and specific order of battle information. (You can also stay tuned to this blog for further developments.) There is no information regarding the Serbians, Croatians, Albanians, Greeks or Montenegrins. To be fair they aren't specifically part of this conflict although they all exerted pressures militarily, economically and politically. The information provided regarding militias is minimal.

The author provided an exhaustive number of pictures of his excellent collection of period firearms. Photos of almost every weapon used by the major combatants are featured. There are three pictures of the Smith & Wesson .44 alone including a detail of the star cartridge extractor. Weapons enthusiasts will be pleased! My personal feeling is that the space dedicated to detailed photos of rifle breaches, text regarding muzzle velocities and the number of grains of powder in certain shells is a poor use of the 48 pages. This space could have been better used for additional minor combatant information, militia uniform descriptions, or any of the previously mentioned missing items.

This book is a better offering then many other Osprey volumes although not the best. It's an excellent first resource to whet the appetite or a nice diversionary read about a relatively obscure war. The topic begs to be re-visited as part of the Osprey Campaign series or as an Essential History.

I give it 6 Krupps up on the strength of the color plates and illustrations.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

The Turkish Gambit on DVD

This is an epic set during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877. The movie is based upon a novel by Russian author Boris Akunin. I'll review the book on a later posting. The story is the second in the series of the adventures of Erast Petrovich Fandorin. Fandorin is an observational detective very similar to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes. Erast faces off against a spy, or network of spies, that are plotting the downfall of the Tsarist armies in Bulgaria. The central backdrop for the movie is the Siege of Plevna.

The uniforms are excellently researched and include multiple shots of rarities such as the Russian Gendarme. There are also numerous on-screen appearances by Cossacks, Turks, Bashi-Bazouks, Russians (winter and summer uniforms) and Romanians. While this is primarily a spy thriller there is some fantastic battle footage. The camerawork during the second assault on Plevna is inspired. In keeping with current movie trends the horrors of war are graphic. In fact the casual viewer might be a bit depressed at some of the characters who become casualties.

This film is entirely a Russian effort, filmed in Russia and Bulgaria. It was released in 2005 and performed very well in Russian theaters. The film is available in Russian or dubbed in Bulgarian, Turkish or French. There are no English dubbed or subtitled versions available that I'm aware of. Regardless, the action can be followed with just a little effort. Reading the book in advance of viewing is highly recommended! It doesn't spoil the movie--in fact you'll still be surprised by the ending. You will require a multi-region DVD player to view this film. It will not play on a standard American player, as we are region1, and this is a region 5 formatted DVD.

In addition to the fictional spy thriller, appearances are made by historical characters such as Gen. M. Skobolev (the White General himself), Osman Pasha and Tsar Alexander II. If you're interested in this historical period then the Turkish Gambit is a must see movie. If you have a passing interest in the wars and armies of the late 19th century, you should see this movie. If you're a fan of good old-fashioned spy thrillers (you got it) you need to see this movie. I found my copy on eBay.

You can view the theatrical trailer at:

I give the Turkish Gambit DVD 8 Krupps up! It just doesn't get any better then that!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Samples of the Irregular Miniatures.

1st Brigade 2nd Regiment Russian Infantry of the line.

Turkish Line Infantry (technically 1912 or 1856)

Standard Bearers!

The 1st Brigade 1st Regiment Line Infantry pass in review.

More sample figures of the Irregular Miniatures 42mm Balkan Wars line of figures. They are a bit over an inch and half tall, paint up quite easily and look very good in mass. They convert very nicely, the Turkish line requiring a little blade work to become an Egyptian. I'll post photos of my Egyptian contingent when finished.

Russian Line are sacrificed as the Guard administers the Coup Fatal!

Two regiments of Russian Line Infantry attack Turkish troops that are supported by a Turkish Krupp Gun. The Russian Guard moves into a flanking position for the kill and the stoic Russian Infantry advance fully aware of the Krupp to their right.

This is the first photo posted of some of my ever growing collection of miniatures for the Russo-Turkish War project that I'm working on. I like the idea of toy soldier style games similar to those depicted in the early books by Grant, Young and Featherstone. I will be posting more photos as units are finished, many of which will be home conversions.

The figures are stock Irregular Miniatures 42mm, I provided the paint and my lovely wife photographed them. They are painted with standard craft paints and sealed with a gloss overcoat.

Day the 1st; Blog the 1st!


This is the sometimes blog of a Toy Soldier collector and Wargaming enthusiast. My favorite period as of this writing is Russia, the Balkans and Orient 1850-1900. I'll be posting photos of my collection, games with descriptions and figure, movie and book reviews.