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, July 25, 2006

Historicon 06

In spite of work demands and in-laws visiting from out-of-state, I managed 2 trips to Lancaster for Historicon--the first visit for me in probably 6 years. I live about 2 hours away from the city of Lancaster, which is an easy ride by car. I drive a small Saturn sedan (it’s a great vehicle, I’m very sorry to see GM discontinue it; I guess it doesn’t fit the business model of build crap and make them re-buy every few years. Sorry about the soap box) and I get about 35 MPG so gas isn’t really an issue. Anyway, my buddy Sprague and I drove up Friday and stayed for about 4 hours.

I picked up an order that was waiting for me from Rich at Dayton Painting Consortium. Rich wasn’t sure if they would get the lead spun with the preparations for the convention taking precedence. I had waited until the last minute to ask if it was possible to get 72 Russian Musketeers and 16 Russian Grenadiers for pick-up at the con. Once again, however, his excellent service came thru. (I apologize for asking so late in the process; thank you very much Rich!) So I now have enough RSM 25mm Russians for 5 Regiments at 53 figures; 2 battalions of 24 soldiers with 1 Officer and 1 NCO / battalion and 1 mounted Colonel each (4 Musketeers and 1 Grenadier). While I was there I also picked up 2 bags of Prussian Musketeers, 2 bags of Prussian Fusiliers and 1 bag of English Generals specifically to get the little ADC that is riding hell-bent-for-leather, a most animated casting, indeed. I think the Prussians may wind up being the first regiments mustered from the Duchy of Vulgaria. I will paint some honest-to-god Prussians, however, I’d like a small army from a tiny country wedged somewhere between Russia, Prussia, Austria and the Ottoman Empire. Speaking of Ottomans there was one bag of Janissaries that I almost bought, although at the last minute I talked myself out of them. Well done again, Rich and the DPC team-- many thanks!

I stopped by the Eureka booth, as Nic always has some interesting minis; I wasn’t disappointed. He has released a line of Toy Town Toy Soldiers that are brilliant. Think “March of the Toy Soldiers” here. He has cavalry in shako and helmet, infantry in shako and bearskin, artillery and a general. I “toyed” (pardon the pun) with picking up a small force. I knew, like Douglas MacArthur, I would return, so I decided to sleep on it. Eureka has also released frogs and turtles for those folks concerned about the image associated with miniature human war games; or for those gamers that just love to see little critters scampering around with weapons. They are nicely sculpted with a good variety of poses, and while not my cup of tea, still very nice. Finally, I had a chance to look at some of the 18mm Seven Years War range. These are extremely nice castings. For anybody considering 15 or 20mm SYW you really need to order a few samples of the Eureka 18’s before you buy in bulk from anyone else.

The games were fantastic (no pix-sorry-it’s the empress of the household that has the photo ability--without braced elbows I tend to shake). We saw a 25mm King Kong game with a model of Kong the Magnificent that had to be 12” tall and walls that were easily 30” tall. This was truly an impressive event. The game was wrapping up when we visited; Kong was still outside and didn’t look as though he would break into the compound. The movie crew and sailors were making short work of the locals. I listened closely but no Fay Wray, at least no screaming that I could discern. Another fine looking game was a French and Indian War canoe race game. The table was beautiful, the miniatures well painted and it appeared that all at the table were having an awesome time. Lots of good natured noise as the canoes rounded the many river bends.

I couldn’t stay too late at the con, as that night the wife and I had tickets, back in Frederick, to the local AA baseball team with both sets of parents. It was very hot, the beer was cold, our team lost and the fireworks were a nice closing spectacle to a very full day. As we walked away from the stadium in the dark we were handed loaves of fresh-baked bread by Sarah Lee representatives. My father-in-law went back and got seconds. I’m not entirely sure what the free bread was all about, although I did enjoy a nice chicken salad sandwich on it when I got home.

Saturday is the day that I had set aside to take my new bride (we haven’t been married a year yet) and her parents to Historicon. Dad-in-law had asked, “What’s all this nonsense about grown men painting and playing with toy soldiers and such?” Since they (Mom- and Dad-in-law) were down visiting from Maine over Historicon weekend and since it IS the largest Miniature Nonsense Convention that I can easily get to I thought--What the hell, let’s let them take a look and judge for themselves. Regardless, I’m not giving their daughter back, so what have I got to lose!

Back I went, for the second time in as many days, to the Lancaster Host. We arrived at noon, and after lunch next door at Lapp’s we headed to the con. My father-in-law is a retired Navy officer, who served in Vietnam during the war, and I was concerned about his reaction to Vietnam-era games. Well, within mere minutes of arriving, we were standing in front of an exact replica of the American compound in Hue City 1968 during the Tet Offensive. The wall behind the game was covered in recon maps with a nice bit of history. We watched as an NVA stand tried to cross the open space between buildings, only to be pinned by fire from US forces inside the compound. The GM used a mini laser pointer to determine LOS. The buildings were some of the best I have seen and the minis well painted. My father-in-law was fascinated; and I was relieved! Everything was ok! We moved thru the venue and watched many games. Mom-in-law rather enjoyed the set for a jungle\monkey themed pulp fiction game. The various GM’s answered occasional questions from us bystanders and I offered sideline explanations where appropriate and it was a very nice outing for all. It would have been nice to play a game, but we were once again limited for time.

We strolled over to the dealer hall and stopped at the top of the stair at the overlook. This is where I think the size and scope of our hobby really hits home. To view the panorama of vendors, humanity, history and sheer quantity of toy soldier “stuff” presented can be inspiring.

I was on a mission for my friend Sprague’s son. Brian has recently been watching and reading the adventures of H. Hornblower and wanted some English Naval Officers and a few sturdy Jack Tars! I found the Britannia Minis booth and was rewarded with a naval contingent as well as a squad of Marines. Next I stopped back by my friends at DPC and I bought a bag of Russian Horse Grenadiers, Austrian Cuirassier to be used as Russians and yes, I did buy the Janissaries! I can be so weak! LOL!

The Janissaries are elegant little fellows. The Janissary soldier is at port arms, feet spread solidly at shoulder width and sports an expression that suggests that he knows the Empire is in remission and that it’s only a matter of time until collapse occurs and yet he will do his duty. The Janissary Officer appears relaxed, one hand extended to hold sword or for encouragement, the other tucked into the folds of his garment. He has a huge moustache, bushy eyebrows and he almost looks as though he believes that while the cause is lost there is still some profit to be had in resistance. I will post unpainted photos shortly and hopefully a few painted samples soon after that. The bag also includes a generic Ottoman standard bearer. I do like him, although, I may modify him to make him a full Janissary.

With my wife in tow (the in laws had found a seat by a water cooler to absorb everything they had seen), I headed back to Eureka. Nic is a first rate gentleman and an exceptional salesman. My nephew is barely 1 year old and my wife insisted that we buy some Toy Town Toy Soldiers to paint for him for Christmas (with Nic’s encouragement). Obviously he won’t be able to play with them for some time but you can’t start them too early. By my count he will soon be the tiny general of a smaller force consisting of 2 Regiments of soldiers at 10 apiece and a Regiment of 8 cavalry. I will post photos of these stout fellows when they are finished. We will also be placing an order for a Teddy Bear SYW Regiment from Eureka for my niece. After all, it just wouldn’t be fair to favor one with toy soldiers and not the other. And it never hurts to get more females into the hobby! So I now have some gift painting to do for next month.

There always seems to be at least one item that screams “I am your next project!” I didn’t have much time to ogle them, fortunately. Sash and Saber now produce a range of 40mm English Civil War. These are some of the nicest castings I have ever seen. I don’t believe the cavalry are currently available; the castings that I did see are supberb. This started my brain ticking and I thought, “I wonder if they plan to produce a War of Spanish Succession and/or Great Northern War range in 40mm?” I fired off an email and the response is, “Yes!” The 40mm WSS/GNW release is planned for next summer. I need to finish my 42mm Russo-Turkish War project by next year. If these castings are available then, and as lovely as the ECW range, they will be my next project. If you are at all mildly interested in the ECW, you owe yourself a look at these beauties. I will most likely buy a few to paint a couple of display regiments--although I don’t really intend to play the ECW, they are just that nice.

Dinner reservations at 6:45PM at the Dobbin House in Gettysburg fortunately prevented me from spending any more time and money than I already had. Two years ago on the 24th of July at the Dobbin House over dinner I asked Gaelyn if she would marry me and obviously she said yes. Our return on the 22nd with her parents was a nice celebration. I’m very lucky to have a wife that supports my hobby and is actually interested; I’m further blessed to have in-laws that are impressed by the hobby as well (perhaps next time they visit I’ll need to have a game setup to play). I wish the same for all of you.

See you at Cold Wars 07!

3 Comments:

Blogger Mister Nizz said...

Wack! You won't be at Fall In, you mean???

I'm kidding!

I posted my own Hcon 06 report in two parts... you know where to look.

July 27, 2006 3:51 PM  
Blogger Poruchik said...

Walt,

Actually all events are probably out thru December, it looks as though we have a green light to start the new datacenter in early September with a completion date of Dec 30 2006 still expected.

So unlike other years, I'm not actually boycotting Fall-In, I just can't go!

Donald~

July 27, 2006 6:52 PM  
Anonymous Rob said...

Don, it's good to read you're enjoying life again. As always, your painting is fantastic.

July 28, 2006 2:13 PM  

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