Friday, 18 June 2021

Several Real Bargains!

Thanks to all who commented on my previous couple of posts, and in particular regarding my thoughts on the passing of Duncan.

Back in the wargames room...

The rationalisation has continued over the past couple of weeks.

It has been an interesting exercise in hobby honesty: which of these projects am I really going to continue?

The result has been a bit of a rethink... and so, I have created a PDF catalogue of what I am putting up for sale.

It includes:

  • Colonial 
  • Back of Beyond 
  • French 1805 ish
  • French and Prussians 1813
  • Normans
  • Carolingians - unpainted
  • many more bits n bobs, including a whole host of 25mm fantasy figures from back in the 70s/80s... Valley of the Four Winds, early Citadel etc.
There are painted and unpainted items.

If you'd like a copy of the PDF, email me: phil(at)philolley(dot)com

I won't be packaging stuff up to send by post (too much hassle), nor will I be  putting on ebay. It's an 'in-person' sale. I've priced it all 'to go' and I hope it will go to people who will be able to enjoy gaming with it or simply to add to your collection.

Below are a few of the items for sale.

Email me for the full catalogue/ PDF.

Thanks for taking an interest.

Sunday, 6 June 2021

Farewell to a Friend

It has taken me a few days to compose my thoughts about the loss of Duncan MacFarlane.

Many people knew him much better than I, but for what it's worth here are few words on the passing of our friend...

I was first aware of him via the old Battleground TV series, the Edgehill episode in which he commanded the Royalist army being my favourite (along with the Chalons ep). But like many I really only knew him much later when the first Miniature Wargames magazine hit the shelves. I travelled home from an excursion into town, clutching a copy of this new mag, and my head was spinning.  His magazines (MW and WI) were a breakthrough in the presentation of our hobby - uniquely Duncan-esque. He could spot angles for photos like no other, and create a narrative with images that was compelling. His direction of the publications created a fresh style that pushed the hobby forward in the '80s and '90s to a whole new standard. Getting a hobby magazine onto the shelves of WHSmiths in the UK was no mean feat. Keeping it there was a miracle.

I first met him in person around 1986, I think at Midland Militaire or WMMS or some or other show. A brief chat at his stand ensued. It was the first of many.

Much later, Duncan took a keen interest in what Barry and I were doing as the League of Augsburg, and following our Neerwinden game at Claymore (Edinburgh) in August 1995, invited us to his Warcon show which was to be held less than a month later in Birmingham. We seized the opportunity, and the photos of our game appearing in Wargames Illustrated 98 in November 1995 was a huge bonus.

Of course, subsequent Partizan shows provided similar opportunities to meet Duncan, and at places like Triples and Claymore too. We also visited his home for photo shoots and the Scout Hall in Newark for "Shoot to Thrill" sessions. At his home, one had to tip-toe around the boxes of wargaming paraphernalia all the way up the stairs.
During one such weekend, being dined by Duncan as a treat in Newark’s Café Bleu, including late night cognacs aplenty, I was struck by the fond interaction between he and the staff at the restaurant – a mark of just how popular he was with people beyond wargaming, for he had a natural rapport with others and was able to converse with anyone.

In hobby terms, he was a great supporter of others’ efforts. You always felt he was genuinely interested in whatever you were doing in the hobby. I will miss the friendly wave, smile, and nod of acknowledgement, beckoning across a show hall, and the lengthy chats at his stand … and getting him a coffee when he looked overrun by eager customers.

Following me showing my Sassanid army on my old blog/ website, he took great delight in telling me his many tales of derring-do with the Peter Gilder Sassanids he had inherited and used in WAB tournaments (in my opinion, they were one of his best magazine front covers). When I launched my small, very amateur, Classic Wargamer’s Journal back in 2010, he was one of the first to subscribe.

At Claymore in 2011 I bumped into him as we were both setting up stalls in the morning, me to sell off a whole host of wargaming materials, including many old magazines (later issues of Min Warg, and some WIs), and he insisted on helping me carry the magazines in from the car and set them up on my stand. He figured that it was all his fault anyway “for publishing the damned things” in the first place!

After every encounter with Duncan, you always got the sense that you came away a better person for it… more knowledgeable, more illuminated, more enthused than ever before. On one occasion he and I even discussed at some length the very clever coded messages that were part of the correspondence between Frederick the Great and Voltaire!

I imagine, somewhere up there just now, there’s a “Great Wargames Show in the Sky” happening… the hobby ‘luminaries’ (those who have gone before us) are playing games, and Paul Trickett and Lee Maxwell have nipped away from their tables to help man Duncan’s stall for a few minutes while he goes around taking photos of the games.

I would like to take this opportunity to extend my condolences to his family, of course, and also to our fellows in the hobby who were close to Duncan… people like Tricks and Laurence , organisers of Partizan (and indeed all the Newark Irregulars), and my fellow demo-gamers down the years who, like me must be feeling it a bit at the moment… Graham Cummings, the Derby lads, Mark Allen, Bill Gaskin, John Ray, Ian Smith, The Perrys, Aly Morrison and Dave Andrews, and many more who I have got to know ‘on the show circuit’, and of course the many traders who were Duncan’s great friends. He has been a constant in all our hobby lives, a common denominator in our acquaintance, and maybe we are mourning the passing years, as well as the passing of our friend.

Erudite, wise, experienced in our hobby beyond measure, Duncan’s contribution is certainly beyond measure, not only to my life, but to many thousands of others too. He was the enigmatic, Merlin-esque, ‘Arch-Druid’ of the hobby; the island at the heart of the wargaming archipelago … who knew everyone, who sowed connections between so many, and who will never be forgotten.

Farewell my friend. Duncan MacFarlane, RIP.

Sunday, 30 May 2021

Artillery emplacements

Thanks to all who commented on the previous post... the stock-taking continues apace, and yesterday the cabinets got a real reshuffle. Amongst other things, this involved me moving the Classic collection from one cabinet to another... a major undertaking since they are all single based!

Meanwhile... In a short interval in the regular painting schedule (rank and file units), I decided to add some artillery crewmen for the gun emplacements that I use for a few periods. I painted these Forge World emplacements several years ago, and they have appeared on many a table. But I needed some crew for them for the WVS project.

I decided to paint some generic crewmen who could be for either side, depending on the scenario. In my head they are Mundanians -part of the local defence forces of the region of Mundania, so their allegiance could be for whichever side is protecting the region against enemy incursion... sometimes that's Vaubaria, sometimes it's Astrovia.

So, a generic grey coat, a few bits of detail, and done... simple.

This is also the first time I have used a GW 'Nuln oil' wash (and I rather liked it). I feel that everyone else has probably been using this technique for ever and a day but that somehow it had passed me by. Late to the party as always!

Finally, while I remember it, I should add my voice to the considerable chorus of praise and thanks to Alec and Angela at Front Rank who announced recently that they will be selling the business and retiring. Over the years I have bought and painted many of their figures. They are always fantastic to deal with, and speedy in delivery. Their contribution to my hobby, and that of so many people, has been invaluable. I wish them all the joy their retirement so richly deserves.

Hope everyone is having a good Bank Holiday weekend!

Sunday, 23 May 2021


I woke very early the other morning (0400) in time to see a stunning sunrise that lasted an hour...

... and in that time, armed with a cup of tea and my wargames journal, I started to finalise my stocktaking, which has been troubling me of late.

In the light of the unfolding dawn, I started to ask big questions, like:

 "Which of these projects will I still want to have in 10, 15, 25 years time?"

"Which of these projects am I realistically, truly, genuinely going to work on, relish and enjoy?"

"Which of these projects are false starts (ie, they're wrong in some way and may need to be revisited later, but for now they can go)?"

"Which of these projects are actually non-starters?"

"Which of these projects are superfluous in some other way?"

The cabinets need some reorganising, which is probably what precipitated this wargaming existential angst...

The upshot to all this was a few decisions...

I will keep the following:

1. Pils Holstein (and add to it, slowly and gradually, on an ongoing basis) 

2. WVS (and continue to build both sides)

 3. Successors (It's done. I may add one more pike block, a couple of cavalry units, and a couple of elephants).

4. Classic Collection (it's finished. Keep for posterity) 

5. TYW (finish a couple of items for completeness) 


So, I plan to sell quite a number of projects that are no longer part of the plan. More on this soon, once I have catalogued what is going to be for sale...

It felt very cathartic even just writing it down - as if a weight has lifted.

In the future, I will add some fresh projects, and a few "set-pieces" (dioramas and the like), including a joint project with my fellow "Fencibler", Steve, who is taking the lead role, which we are currently just starting.

Having a bit of a stock-take can be good for morale. And sometimes the decision has to be to let certain things go. As any rock-climber will tell you, you've got to let go somewhere in order to reach up higher.


Sunday, 16 May 2021

A new contingent

Thanks to everyone who commented on the previous post. Much appreciated.

It has spurred me on to speed paint a new contingent for The Wars of the Vaubarian Succession... a brigade of Pils Holstein infantry.

One of the features of the early 18C wars is the polyglot nature of the armies, with contingents being provided by numerous states to make up the force compositions at various times. So, I felt it appropriate to do the same in my imaginary world too. And, after all, Pils Holstein does feature in so many of my projects, so why not this one?!

I have used the Front Rank Danish figures for the period, and simply painted them to represent the Pils Holstein battalions:
IR 1 Leibgarde, 
IR 2 Wolfsheim, IR 3 Braunschweig

At present, it is unclear from the diplomatic wranglings which side Pils Holstein will take in the hostilities, but time will tell.

An enjoyable painting output for April, since when I've been working on a few more things...

Sunday, 9 May 2021

Battle of Dullogren

Over the weekend, I have played a solo game set in The Wars of the Vaubarian Succession, as shown in the layout in my previous post.

It was a really straightforward encounter action.

And I'm sure some blog visitors might be able to recognise the parallels, in terms of rough set up, with a well-known 18C battle. No prizes for guessing.

Meanwhile, here are just a few shots of the game.

In the end, the Astrovians found themselves on the receiving end of a hammering, once the Vaubarian firepower took hold. The poor Astrovian attack faltered as they were significantly outnumbered in the centre. Their cavalry also failed to make a breakthrough on the left, even though the lancers did well in the first round of combat, eventually their heavier Vaubarian opponents won through. On the Astrovian right, the enclosures were hotly contested, with neither side willing to make the decisive push, and a stalemate ensued.

An enjoyable few hours.

and I've got some new troops fresh off the painting table to show, once I take a few pics. So, next time...

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Table laid out

Well, it's been a little while, but all is well 'chez moi.'

Last weekend, I set up an action with the WVS forces so far... Astrovians are to the left, Vaubarians to the right.

It's starting to build up now... But it looks like the Astrovians could do with some reinforcements!

Amongst Easter, the bank holidays, and the other intrusions on our hobby (!!), I have been painting a fair bit, and also enjoying the updates of' 'The Wargaming Blogerati' (you know who you are). There's some interesting stuff out there. 

Similarly, there's a group of young lads doing Youtube battle reports, painting sessions, and podcasts which are rather a good way of spending an hour or two whilst at the painting desk. Check out people like '7 Son' on Youtube. OK, it might not all be to everyone's taste, but I admire their enthusiasm, productivity, and range of projects. The fact is, they're doing it. And enjoying it. And willing to share it. Well done lads.

I've also been doing a bit of project stock-taking. Well, you know how it is when you are thinking of starting something fresh and wondering how the heck it's going to fit in with all the other stuff!!

I'm keeping myself 'sane' (it's all relative) by wondering which of the various parcels from manufacturers such as The Perrys and Front Rank will arrive first. It's the modern 'lockdown' equivalent of cockroach racing... 
This morning did involve a little unboxing over breakfast too, although that was just a few additions to an old project, so doesn't really count!!

More to show this weekend, I hope.