A blog about Victorian miniatures, some historical and some definately not!

Monday, 25 April 2011

Cemetery Chapel

During my visit to Salute I acquired some scenery to create a cemetery , including the new plastic gravestones from Renedra, as well some from Westwind, Hasslefree(made by Armourcast) and a few others I forget at the moment but when painted I will post some pictures. So a new unforeseen project has started , although to be fair I have always wanted to have a cemetary and a church for my victorian London project. This project has come closer to likelyhood from some new products I saw at Salute....more later on this. I have spent my spare time at the weekend painting up some Renedra plastic camp site bits I bought at Salute and a Ziterdes cemetary chapel I ordered form a newish gaming shop in Surbiton, here is a link to them http://www.heroesandlegendsgames.com/

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Tortoise Steam Tank

Abdul666 asked a question about the origin of the tank depicted on the cover of Voices Prophesying War, there are elements of five illustrations on the cover of the book and all of them are also inside the book with annotations of some sort showing the origin except the tank. Abdul666 was quite correct that the airship was taken from one of the works of Robida.
Looking through The Tale of the Next Great War I found this illustration
Quite clearly the same design as on the cover of the other book.

Although there appears to be no comment in the text of The Tale of the Next Great War it has this annotaion underneath the illustration.
'The first patent application (No. 747) for an armoured fighting vehicle was presented on 3 April 1855 by James Cowen and James Sweetlong.'This invention consists of an improved locomotive battery to be used in the field of battle, and is so constructed as to exert a most destructive force against the enemy , while protected from damage in return' '

This has piqued my interest, Im not sure the illustrations are directly linked to the patent application or not, google has so far not come up with any answers.Im going to see if I can find out more information.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Invasion Literature

The Stories
For a few years I have been interested in Invasion Literature. This is a little known genre of late 19th and early 20th century comprising of books, articles and pamphlets focusing on 'what if' scenarios. The wikipedia articles gives a reasonable summary here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invasion_literature .
Anyone interested in the genre should seek out the works of I F Clarke , a British professor. Although scholarly works they are very readable. Here is the first one I obtained

From the title you can see this is a overall commentry fom 1763 till modern times. The most scholarly of the works and probably the least of specific interest of the three books by Clarke , but has got some interesting period pictures such as
The appendices contain some useful lists of works and a chronological list of imaginary wars.

The Tale of the Next Great War 1871-1914 contains 15 stories including the Battle of Dorking, about which later.

It also ,like the next volume, has plenty of interesting illustrations

The Great War with Germany,1890-1914 contains 37 extracts from German and British stories with a commentry from the editor

Although the largest group of stories are about a conflict with Germany , caused by insecurity of Victorian Britain and the future of the Empire particularly after the Prussian victory over the French in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870 -1871 and the arming of the German nation leading up to 1914 , many other enemies feature in the stories including Russia ,France , Anarchists and even Martians. It was not just a British movement either, various other countries had articles published about invasions including the USA being devasted by a British invasion due to a falling out over fishing rights with the Canadiens (The Stricken Nation by Hugh Donnelly- reprinted in The Tale of the Next Great War) , Im pretty sure this was a actual grievance which fortunately never came to conflict.

Michale Moorcock edited two collections of stories which were published in paperback in the 1970s.

Some of the stories are also in Clarkes works but still worth getting hold of. If anyone would like to know which stories are in which volumes I would be happy to tell them , or I may even list them on this blog at a future date.
I managed to win off ebay a couple of the works by William le Queux , an interesting character to say the least  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Le_Queux , he was very prolific here is another list of his works
The Great War in England 1897 was published in 1895 and details the invasion of Great Britain by German and Russian allied forces. Its pretty dour to be honest and seems to ignore the strength of the Royal Navy at the time by coming up with a excuse for the fleet being away. The country is eventually rescued by Empire troops coming to rescue the Mother Country , Bengal Lancers in Sussex anybody?

I also have a short non fiction book by him Hushed Up at German Headquarters subtitled Amazing Confessions of Col. Lieut. Otto von Heynitz 16th Uhlans , Principle Aide De Camp to His Imperial Highness the German Crown Prince, I have not read it yet but it seems to be a piece of propaganda more than anything, I suppose most invasion literature was in one way or another.

A variety of authors of varying ability wrote stories classified as invasion literature. In the collections listed we have AA Milne of Winnie the Pooh fame, P G Wodehouse and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle all of whom wrote short stories.Perhaps the most famous piece of invasion literature is War of the Worlds by H G Wells , although slightly different in that it deals with a extra terrestial menace it was a thinly veiled warning of future wars as was some of his other works such as The War in the Air and Land Ironclads. Another famous piece of Invasion Literature is The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers which was also made into a film , dealing with the build up of German seapower prior to WW1
The other notable authors include Albert Robida and George Griffith.

Of course most of the stories are out of print and many were only published in magazines of the time, however by searching on ebay and book websites such as ABE some publications can be found. Probably more practical is finding them online as they are out of copyright like this site http://www.archive.org/search.php?query=subject%3A%22Imaginary%20wars%20and%20battles%22

This looks like an excellent choice to get quite a a few of the stories at a reasonable cost, I have not ordered it myself yet as I already have some of the works and my reading queue is pretty large but I may well order it soon. http://www.ozebook.com/ozebook/invasionlit.htm

The Battle of Dorking by George Chesney
This was the publication that started the flood of invasion literature in the late 19th century and also kick started my interest in genre. Living at the foot of Surrey Hills I was intrigued when I heard of this, I live about 15 miles away from Dorking (and actually equidistant to Horsell Common Woking ,the site of the first battle in War of the Worlds). Its written quite well compared to some of the other works and I have read it several times. It caused quite a stir when originally published in Blackwoods Magazine in 1871 was reprinted as a book many times and led to vigrous debate across the nation.Apart from the online versions and in Clarkes Tale of the Next great war and Moorcocks Before Armageddon listed above it can be bought from Amazon.
Here is the original cover from the book.

An article about invasion literature and The Battle of Dorking by Professor Clarke can be found here

There is a hex and card wargame based on this book available at  http://www.wargamevault.com/index.php?filters=0_0_0&manufacturers_id=2773 which I have bought with its supplement Last Stand at Surbiton 1871 http://www.myspace.com/drakengames , although not played it as yet I hope to one day....

Gaming Invasion Literature
There are plenty of opportunities to game this genre in a variety of scales and formats. Many of the tales are based on visions of futuristic war with the development of weapons and vehicles some of which came to pass, particularly in the air and on and below the sea, other stories use the forces available at the time but in a unfamiliar setting. Both types I consider to be in the VSF stable.
The Battle of Dorking falls into the latter category, Prussian forces will be available in any of the ranges available for the Franco Prussian war , British forces in 28mm can be obtained from Ironclad Miniatures and Redoubt who do home service uniforms , I have both as well as discontinued lines from Wessex Games and a large amount of Cavalry fromn the old HLBS line, unfortunately I have not got any HLBS infantry and Im kicking myself I did not get them when they were available even though they are not of the same quality as Ironclad. In 18mm Black Hat miniatures produce a very nice range of British and Prussian in there Martian Empires section  , although I have some of the Martian expedition forces I have not yet purchased any home service uniformed chaps , Im toying with the idea of ordering some before the Salute show as a price increase is coming. In smaller scales you can use colonial forces and just paint the helmets black for the British or pretend the experiment to use white helmets for home service uniforms that actually happened in the 1890s got approved. For the later part of the period you can use WW1 figures. Warrior miniatures produce a range called England Invaded including a  ruleset which is very much influenced by invasion literature. In smaller scales aerial and naval warfare is well served by lines such as Aeronef from Brigade Models or the dreadnought ranges produced by so many.
Of course it need not just be German opponents or indeed even set in Great Britain , you can let your imagination run wild and introduce as much VSF as you wish.The thought of Bengal Lancers and Ghurkas standing shoulder to shoulder with Grenadier Guards in there bearskin helmets and the household cavalry in full ceremonial uniform fighting the allied forces of Russian cossacks and Prussian infantry across the fields and villages of Surrey and Sussex is irrestible.

The spur to post this on my blog came from a after action report by Luddite on LAF here  http://www.lead-adventure.de/index.php?topic=27115.0.
Invasion literature has been discussed a few other times in the past too http://www.lead-adventure.de/index.php?topic=7990.0 and

The VSF chaps ran a interesting campaign based on the Invassion of Great Britain on the forum too , here is an example of one of the battle reports http://www.lead-adventure.de/index.php?topic=6220.0

Till next time...Cheers

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Sky Galleons of Mars

I have done a little bit of painting this week. Dont look much like Zulus though do they?
The British ships need a bit more work to them and I am toying with painting the bases a terracotta colour to match the surface of Mars, however it would not be so effective when they are over water like this.
The game when it was released in the 1980s came with some plastic ships.I believe two companys produced ships in metal , Houstons Ships which were later sold by a compant called Game-tech , I think they are the better quality ones, and Lyzards Grin which I have picked a up a few recently from a distributor in the USA though both lines are long oop. I will go into more detail about the game and my collection at a later date

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Targets Revised Down Already!

I think on reflection I was being a bit ambitious with the amount of figures I am going to paint , so the previous post is not set in stone!  I cannot see myself painting that many Redcoats ....but you never know.

I spent today working on the bases of my Zulus , I currently have 50 that just need the bases finished and shields, about 50 need a few bits of detailing and bases and shields and about 100 which are cleaned , undercoated and given a all over basecoat.Im hoping by next weekend to get the first 50 finished when I shall post some pics.I actually started these back in the autumn  so dont think Ive done this in the last couple of weeks! I have developed a speed method (well speedy for me) to paint the Zulus as I am keen to paint lots and get them on a table next year. I also have approx 50 24th foot half painted.

In a future post I shall consider the miniatures Im using in more detail but my Zulus will be a eclectric mix of the following ranges- New Foundry, Old Foundry, Rapier, Empress, Old Glory , Black Tree Design , Redoubt, Baker Company,Steve Barber Models and Wargames Factory. My unfortunate collecting habit makes me buy figures from different manufacturers even though I know they should not really be used together due to differences in size and style and I have got figures from all of the above and I even bought a few from Irregular, Minifigs and Hinchcliffe for the sake of completeness.

Till next time

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Anglo Zulu War Targets

Here, for all the world to see , or at least anyone that reads this, I will set out my minimum requirement for the Zulu War project I have commecnced.
The project is twofold really , firstly to complete all the miniatures and terrain required to reenact a campaign based on this book by Roy Jones and Mark Fastoso.

This book is produced by Skirmish Campaigns http://www.milminusa.com/skirmcamp/scmain.htm#cc , I have the Abyssinia book and the Tanga 1914 elite campaign and found them really useful. The Zulu war contaigns 11 scenarios form the start f the conflict hrough to  the final defeat of the Zulus at Ulundi. The rules suggested are the Sword and the Flamewhich I  own a copy of , with some modifications of which the most significant is 8 man units for infantry.

The miniatures required to complete the scenarios are as follows.
48x24th Foot , 40x3rd Foot , 8xRoyal Engineers, 8xNaval Brigade, 64x80th Light Infantry, 32x90th Light Infantry,16x60th Rifles,32x13th Light infantry  , 16x91st Highland Infantry ,32xNatal Native Contingent , 16xSwazi Allies and 13 characters.
I do not envisage doing all the Light Infantry units as 80th LI can stand in for the others. This leaves a total of 261 infantry.Blimey!

15x17th Lancers, 6x1st Dragoon Guards, 6xMounted Infantry, 6x Natal Mounted Police, 6 x Colonial Volunteers, 6xNatal Light Horse, 8xBakers Horse, 8x Border Horse, 8 x Transvaal Rangers, 8 xNatal Native Horse, 8x Frontier Light horse, 6xRaafs Transvaal Rangers and 4 mounted characters.
I have not yet worked out where I can double up on units, there must be some although a couple of the scenarios require mainly cavary units.So at the moment the target is 96 mounted, double blimey!

4 x 7lb RA guns with 3 crew, 3 x 9lb RA guns with 3 crew, 1 x RN Gatling gun with 3 crew and 1 x RN rocket tube with 3 crew, 5 Wagons.

49 with muskets , 140 with hand weapons, 16 with rifles and 6 mounted.

A 6 x 4 terrain board, Rorkes Drift Buildings , Zulus Huts.
I built a 8 x 4 terrain board about 4 or 5 years ago to go with my sons Christmas present of Warhammer Fantasy Battles which I had painted for him, it was meant to represent Skull Pass and although I was happy how the figures came out and I made a few errors with the board which is split into 4 x 2 ft sections. I think I can quite easily use adapt this to use for this project , however it will need some surgery to it, I will also need a extra 4 x 2 section. I will post pics of this when I am working on it.

I purchased a damaged Rorkes Drift set from Redoubt Enteprises at the Warfare show at Reading , here is a link to the item http://www.redoubtenterprises.com/shop/?page=shop/flypage&product_id=1355&category_id=40dc45d55f84bfb2a599af2e28a41e36
The roof of the hospital was split in 2 and some floors had broken off, I havenow repaired the damaged parts by pinning and glueingthe rooof and floors using a two part epoxy glue,it seems to have come out ok.

In front you can see some not yet completed Zulu huts , I have about 10 now plus a few other bits and pieces to form a Kraal (Zulu settlement) again I will post more info when I am working on them.
Here are the barricades which came with the set, I dont think theres enough for the board Im planning and I will ahve to order some more.

At the back is the toilet, kitchen, oven and the redoubt.

The second part of the project is to paint the defenders of Rorkes Drift on a ratio of 1 to 1 , and to name each of them! Most of these will already have been painted for the campaign , but will probably require an extra 40 miniatures.

So, thats a brief summary of my target for this year, whether I complete it im not too sure, it would be achievable if I didnt paint anything else, but I do intend to carry on with my VSF forces.
Next post will be about the miniatures Im using for the forces.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Anglo Zulu War Project

I have had a hankering to do the Zulu War for many years, and now I have commenced the project .To be honest I first bought some miniatures for this period about 5 years ago at a bring and buy where I got a pretty good deal on some of the old foundry range of Brits and Zulus . Last summer I started buying Zulus and reading up on the period and since then have been accumulating more and more .
I have set myself a target of completing the project by this Sunday of next year , 22nd January 2012 , which will be the anniversary of the actions at Rorkes Drift and the battle preceding it, Isandlwana.
More details to follow shortly.