I’m alive!

Okay, that’s probably a bit dramatic, but after more than five weeks of the gammy leg thing, compounded by tearing the calf muscle on the way to the bathroom a week ago (how unglamorous can you get?) as a result of having rested it so much, the gradual easing of pain to mere discomfort feels, believe me, like something of a rebirth.

First of all, let me say another huge “thank you” to the dozens of people who sent very kind “get well” messages, including a surprising number who are or have been fellow sufferers of cellulitis. Your support means a great deal to me and has certainly helped me to cope with this affliction in better spirits than would otherwise have been the case.

Secondly, I can confirm that despite the setback, the Table Top Teasers Special Edition made it to the printers just before Christmas, and is at the finishers right now, so should be with me within the next day or two [latest update: it’s just arrived!], so all those of you who have waited patiently whilst I sat on your money will be rewarded with your copies as soon as I can humanly manage to get them in the post to you. The rest of you, get your orders in now here!

The British & Hessian attack on the Yorktown defences

The British & Hessian attack on the Yorktown defences

Next, I’ve already started work on issue 16, which will head off to the printers in a couple of weeks time, and it’s packed with goodies, including some shots taken at the South Mimms Yorktown/Waterloo extravaganza organised by Dave Brown and “Eclaireur”, about whom I just want to say a few words, especially since he has provided a wonderful scenario article for the forthcoming issue based on the Yorktown game.

I normally have no truck with those who want to use a pseudonym for their articles, feeling that it is often a symptom of silliness at best, or pretentiousness and pomposity at worst. However, in this instance, many of us already know who Eclaireur really is, and many others would recognise him instantly from his work with a major British TV channel. It is in fact for this reason that his wargaming articles cannot be published under his real name: he has contractual obligations about the kind of work he is seen to be doing, and sadly, his employers are not as enlightened about our hobby as we might wish them to be, even though I am sure that it could well be thought to be remarkably relevant to his work.

Having met and spent some time with the man many call simply “Ec”, I have found him to be every inch the charming and intelligent chap I expected him to be, and therefore have no hesitation in respecting his wish for confidentiality, and I would simply ask that those others who know the man behind the mask do likewise.

The South Mimms Waterloo game, seen from the British left

The South Mimms Waterloo game, seen from the British left

I have, incidentally, also asked Dave Brown to put something together about the Waterloo game from that weekend. Played with, quite literally, thousands of beautifully-painted 15mm miniatures by two teams of players passionate about the outcome, it was magnificent to witness. Again, here’s just a little photographic tease! Waterloo is one of those iconic battles which arouses passions on all three sides (British/Allied, Prussian and French), and the pressure on the game organiser is to produce something which recreates something of that cliff-hanging feeling amongst the players and onlookers. Well, this event rose to the occasion admirably, the tension was palpable all weekend and, just as in the real thing, the outcome was far from certain until the very end of the second day of play. A near run thing indeed! You’ll have to wait to read about what happened in more detail, but it should be a humdinger of an article when finished.

Finally, I’ve managed – at long last – make a start on one of my new projects (as if I needed another!) Those Perry American Civil War plastics that I put together for the Recce review a couple of months ago have been nagging at me to slap some paint on them, and a couple of other things have conspired to make me take the plunge.

First of all, Charles S Grant’s The War Game Companion described in some detail the fun had by him and his father in the early days as they pitched Reb against Yankee in many a fun encounter, which got me yearning for the days of my youth when I had more than 1,000 Airfix ACW figures, including many conversions, nicely painted and based. I fought many an epic battle with my old school chum David Cox and others across an 8′ x 4′ table set up in the dining room of my Mum’s house back in the 1970s. Foolishly, I sold the lot for what seems like sixpence many years ago when I set off for university.

Then I discovered that my Fantasy & Sci-Fi Editor Roger Smith has been harbouring a secret interest in the ACW, and the arrival of the Perry plastics has proved to be the tipping point for him. No mere man of words, Roger has invested real cash and now has the beginnings of a Confederate force set to take on my Union troops.

And finally, having spent some time with the Perry twins, they’re just such nice guys and loaded with talent that their enthusiasm has rubbed off on me. They have a range of metal figures that round out the plastics nicely, and the more time I have spent with the miniatures, the more I have grown to like the anatomy, animation and character of the figures.

There are some tantalising gaps, of course. Where are the zouaves?! Not to be deterred, I’ve decided that they will form my first conversion project, prompting me to dig out that Green Stuff and those sculpting tools that have been lying around for ages, and this may well form the basis of an article for the magazine, a record of either triumph or disaster!

Anyway, I decided to start with some basic infantry, cavalry, artillery and a senior officer, so the project begins with this clutch of units as they would have appeared in 1863, at the time of Gettysburg, in fact. Roger and I decided to go for this mid-war period because the opposing armies had more or less achieved parity: the corners had been knocked off the often raw and frightened city boys from the North, and the cocky, veteran units of Lee’s army had taken a few knocks and were starting to feel the pinch.

My first recruits for the Army of the Potomac, Reynold’s 1st Corps, Wadsworth’s 1st Division, Cutler’s Brigade, are the 76th New York infantry; and from Gamble’s Brigade of Doubleday’s 3rd Division come the 8th New York cavalry. There’s also a 3″ Ordnance rifle battery, and to command them I’m painting a brigadier-level leader on a dapple grey mount.

So, to finish up, here are a few pics of my very crowded painting table – and yes, those are still Zulus jostling for attention in the background! I’m using a combination of Foundry and GW/Citadel acrylics, and those gorgeous new Citadel washes, which have proved their worth beyond any doubt on the horses and flesh. And no, I’m not doing eyes on the figures: these will be painted to decent wargames standard, on the basis that at this scale, you wouldn’t be able to see the eyes, and my name is not amongst the award-winning painting glitterati capable of microscopic detail!

My cluttered painting table

My cluttered painting table

Perry plastic ACW infantry fleshed but not dressed!

Perry plastic ACW infantry fleshed but not dressed!

The uncomfortably perched cavalry await their clothes

The uncomfortably perched cavalry await their clothes

Senior officer's horse (metal) with plastic troop horses

Dapple grey horse (metal) with bay plastic troop horses

The Perry artillery crew have just got their skin

The artillery crew have just got their skin

Right, it’s back to work for me, so I’ll see you next time!

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