Sunday, February 26, 2017

5mm Minifigs Blocks: Part 2

      Jon Meech kindly sent me more photos of Minifigs 5mm blocks, some which are still unfinished.  Here's the information that Jon knows of the line of figures. He believes that they were launched in 1972 as "MiniMinifigs" and were included in the 1972/73 catalog. They sat alongside the 25mm (S) range and equally short lived 30mm range. They were discontinued sometime before 1976. The reason given by NevilleDickinson was that he was having trouble finding a reliable sculptor in this scale.

     Jon has excess of 200 blocks, of which he says all are poor casting. Could this be one reason they were discontinued? In the blocks in the raw, they can seen to be less than well cast. However, I believe a war-game battlefield filled with these figures would be an impressive sight.

    Once again I want to thank Jon Meech for sharing the photographs and history of these figures. I asked Jon that in the future he could send me pictures of them in action; if he does I will share them with you.
Nicely painted cavalry.

One unit of infantry painted as Zouaves.

2 Two rank infantry units. It can be seen that some of the heads aren't complete.

The corners of the blocks aren't complete.

The cavalry bases, with the same problem of not filling in completely. Jon says this is common with the blocks. Perhaps that is the reason Minifigs discontinued them. Whatever the cause, it is a loss to the wargaming community.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

5 mm Minifigs Blocks

In my last posting, I featured Irregular Miniatures 2mm blocks. In the comments section Jon Meech mentioned that he played games with Minifigs 5mm Block units. I have tried to find out more about them in the past; Jon kindly sent me some photos and some information about them. Below is a tease of the photos he sent. He has mentioned that he will try to send more shortly. Hopefully I will have some more info and pictures to post soon.  I want to thank Jon for forwarding the pictures to me. I am sure there are other people interested in seeing these forgotten troops.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Square Board Wargames

    While looking through the book "Austerlitz: The Empire at its Zenith" by F.G. Hourtoulle, I came across a panorama of the battle by Lejeune (I'm assuming Napoleonic General Lejeune, who was also a gifted painter). Looking at the panorama,  it looked like a war-game table with Irregular Miniatures 2mm armies fighting across it. The Irregular 2mm armies can look quite impressive when set up on the table.

   While talking of 2mm armies, I have been thinking of ordering more Irregulars; this time I'm leaning towards 2 ACW armies. While making my plans, I came across a set of rules "See the Elephant" on The Stronghold Rebuilt blog . It is a set of rules for the American Civil War, to be used on an 8X8 board, such as a chessboard.   As my wife went to Maryland to visit family for a few days, it gave me time to try out these rules.
I made two even armies mirroring their deployments.

The Red army pushes forward

The red army wins the day.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

New Ideas for Casting

    I had no intention of posting this week. It's not that I haven't done anything with the hobby, it's just I have no ambition. I did receive this week, several lots of 1st generation Napoleonic Minifigs, with several strips that are new to me. Besides painting some figures and having a couple of wargames to try out some ideas, there is little I had to report on.

    A couple of posting ago, I used some home cast Peter Laing goose-stepping Germans in a game. I forgot how much I liked these figures.On a whim I decided to try to cast some today. Usually I have had little success casting in the cold basement in winter, and expected little luck today.  Today, however, was a very productive session. In an hours' time, out of 28 casting, I had 24 usable figures.  But best of all, I found a more productive way of casting. Now I am sure more experienced casters already do this. If you do your own casting, you know that you have to wait for the metal to solidify, usually about a minute. Before I would stand around waiting. This time, after cutting off the pouring spout off the figure, I  found that the figure was cool enough for me to handle without gloves. I got a file and filed the base while I waited for the metal to cool in the mold. I came up with a new system of casing. It involves 1: Pour the metal into the mold. 2: As the metal solidifies, cut the pouring spout off the cast figures and return the spout to the pot. 3: File the base of the newly cast figures. 4: Once the figure bases are done, open the mold and remove the casting; inspecting the figures as you remove them. If the casting is poor, put it aside for now. 5: Put the mold back together and pour a new casting. 6: Remove the pouring spout, and put the spout and any defective casting back into the pot. 6: Repeat. By doing it this way, I was busy the entire time I was casting. I also managed to clean the figures up and base them on plastic that night, so the figures are ready for priming tomorrow.

Some of the newly cast figures.

Some figures waiting to have their bases filed.

A check list I wrote up so I would remember next time.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Heroscape Town Terrain

  One problem with using Heroscape is the size of the hexes. Of course, the game was designed to be used with uses single figures on the hexes. To use units complicates the matter. I now mainly use Command & Colors style units; 4 bases to an infantry unit, 3 bases to a cavalry unit, and 2 bases to an artillery unit. These units, which are 15mm, fit on the Heroscape hexes. However, if you want to add feature such as builds and woods, it becomes crowded on the board. I Have found some smaller trees that work well representing woods. Adding building to represent built up areas is more of a problem. The building used don't give much room for the figures.

    With my recent work of using Heroscape hexes with Command & Colors rules,  I had some issues with Heroscape. To put a board together using these hexes can be a challenge. To put a river the way the set is designed really complicates it. However, using the C&C idea of placing tiles on top of the board solved that problem. The river hexes are very thin, and by just placing them on top of the board, I believe, doesn't distract from the game too much.

    My next problem was towns. Heroscape has hexes that look like cobblestone; they came with a set to build walls. I always thought they would  look good for town hexes. After seeing the river on top of the board, if only the cobblestone hexes were thin like that, it would be great. I took one, and after much work (and a painful blister) I cut one down.  After some filing and sanding, I tried it on the board. It locked down nice and tight on the board. I cut down four more ( I also found a system that it only took a few minutes and no more blisters).

   I still wanted houses on the hexes though. My original thought was to make building outlines with balsa wood. While thinking of how to go about it, I was looking at one of the little wooden houses used in my game. I then thought, what if I cut one of these houses in half? Cutting one in half, repainting it and adding a matchstick chimney, it was a nice looking little building. What's more, It gave me more room for my figures to stand. I proceeded to cut several more down. One I added a tower to represent a church.  I am happy with the result.

   Now I am thinking of how to use built up areas. I am thinking for farms, a building would be
on a regular green hex. A village would be one or two cobblestone hexes; a town three hexes; and a city four or more hexes. Maybe such areas would only count as one hex, and only allow one unit to occupy it. It could be fun to have a large city, where each hex could be occupied, and each hex would have to be fought for, such as a WW2 game.  I will have to give much thought to the problem.

One of the houses before I cut it in half.

The town, with a river running next to it.

A unit of infantry moves in to defend the town. I fought a game to try my new town hexes out. I also wanted a smaller battlefield, so I decided to divide the board using the river; the river was impassable. 

The end of the game. The Shiak army has defeated the Brookshire army. The Shiak troops move through the town to give chase to the fleeing Brookshire army.