Thursday, July 30, 2009

Deal, or no deal?

Deal. Over the past few weeks, I kept an eye on a few auctions taking place on eBay, and I have successfully snatched a couple of amazing deals. The one I am most proud of is a lot of colonial British, and several Pathans for the North-West Frontier. I already had a few Irregular miniatures for this theater, and the recent addition will nicely complete my existing armies.
Once I received the packages, I proceeded with some cleaning, some final touches to my personal tastes, and a "miracle dip" that provided a wonderful (to my eyes, at least!) finish, especially to the native figures. And finally, I have some eye candies to share on this blog! Here's a few pictures of the almost completed projected -- only the final touches to the bases are still due.

First, an overview of part of the figures. To my eyes, they all look like 15mm Minifigs, probably with just a couple of Stone Mountain in the lot.

Now two close-ups. the British look impressive! I cannot wait to deploy these guys on the road up to some forgotten valley over the frontier with Afghanistan!

And here the fearsome Pathans.

So, what will be next? With completed armies available, maybe it is time to prepare some adequate terrain... and look at my closet! A few nice buildings, and a whole mosque are waiting to be painted up!

Friday, July 17, 2009

A Churchillian moment

I spent part of this week on the road for a business trip to the Lake of the Ozarks, in Missouri. On my way to the meeting, I happened to drive through Fulton, Missouri. I was not expecting it -- I didn't check the itinerary beforehand -- but a light went on as soon as I spotted the sign of the city. Now, I am not that old: but in what now feel as a different era, in a different country, I was quite engaged in politics, and a rather staunch "Cold Warrior." Fulton MO immediately evoked a defining moment in that struggle: the speech by one of my heroes, Winston Churchill, warning about the threat of Soviet expansionism in Europe:
From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia, all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere, and all are subject in one form or another, not only to Soviet influence but to a very high and, in many cases, increasing measure of control from Moscow.

[Above, Winston Churchill at the podium delivering his lecture to the audience in Fulton, March 1946.]

And here I am, years later, driving though the town that was the scene of the historical moments. Since signs on the main route announced a "Winston Churchill Memorial", I took a few minutes for a quick visit to what turned out to be a very interesting museum, hosted on the ground of the local Westminster College. The story about the invitation sent by the college to Churchill (inspired by an alumnus connected to fellow Missourian Truman) and the visit by the former British Prime Minister and then-President Truman in 1946 is, in itself, fascinating. The following picture was taking as the duo paraded through the streets of Fulton, before the address of the Prime Minister.

The Memorial is a small, wonderful museum, definitely worth a visit longer than the little time I had available -- I am certainly planning on stopping there again at the first opportunity, and spend at least a couple of hours walking through the exhibition, the Church that was transplanted from London to the middle of Missouri in the 1960s, and the surrounding grounds. It is a little gem, and I am glad I had this random opportunity to visit the Memorial to one of my favorite historical characters.

As an additional treat to myself, on my way out, I stopped to the small store inside the museum and bought a copy of "River War" (which I own in Italian, but not in the original English language.) I am sure I will soon succumb to the desire to engage in some Sudan scenario...

Monday, July 13, 2009

Who are these guys?

And, more importantly: where are they from?

I just completed an interesting deal with a very fine gentleman from Texas, who just delivered some unpainted Marlburian figures. I received the package today -- and I am having a ball to sort through the goodies! In the lot, there are several Roundway Miniatures, mostly British with a few bags of Bavarians. I have never seen Roundway figures before, and I have been pleasantly impressed: they appear to be on par with Dixon and Minifigs, and they will provide a very welcome addition to my expanding armies for the period.

Included in the package, there were also several Edition Brokaw miniatures. I understand this is a very "old school" range, and many may well turn their noses to figures who are, at best, a little cartoonish in their features, and who require a lot of care and cleaning because of the flesh they carry. That said, these are also among the cheapest miniatures for the period, come in a relatively large assortment, and "paint well and fast." Thus, I welcome the opportunity to add some more of them to the several EB miniatures already in my painting pipeline.

Nevertheless, there is a little puzzle I am now facing. The gentleman from Texas was not able to identify the miniatures from Edition Brokaw. I did some comparison with what I already own, and I came to the conclusion that the larger part of the lot, about 100 figures (I have yet to count them properly), are generic musketeers, which EB recommends for use as British, Dutch, and Austrian, plus as troops of some of the Holy Roman Empire. Here's a (very) bad picture of sample of them.

Unfortunately, I have been less successful to properly I.D. the following two groups. I am posting here some pictures, ad I hope some of you may help in recognizing what they are. The first group looks like line infantry with musket at waist, one belt across the the chest and the back, and cartridge box on the right flank.

By carefully reading the catalog provided by Edition Brokaw, and by comparison with my other EB infantry, I can exclude they are Palatinate units. They are not "generic" musketeers: they miss the waist belt and the small sword (a bayonet?) that the generic units carry. So: who are they? Maybe Danish? Saxons? Swedish? Any one? Bueller? Bueller?
Finally, there is a mysterious unit of guard or grenadiers. Here's the picture.

They seem to sport what appears to be a short mitre, a feature which helps, but only to some extent. As they do not wear a bearskin, Austrian and Bavarian grenadiers are out of question. Maybe British? Or Dutch? I have no idea what Danish grenadiers would wear; I would rule out Saxons (and Swedish), as they are suggested to wear a tall mitre.
Bottom line: I'll buy a drink at the first occasion to the ones who will help in a positive identification of these new additions!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

And two other regiments for Electoral Palatinate

Voici! Palatine Westerwald and Haxthausen-Paderborn regiments getting ready! Still a few touches needed to complete these two units, but I feel confident that a preview can be shared by now. These are 15mm Edition Brokaw miniatures.
[As an aside note: there seems to be very little out there in terms of Edition brokaw miniatures, so I am glad to share. I found many people in the hobby to be interested to look at this range "in flesh"... no pun intended...]
First of all, the photo of the all "ensemble".

Now a close-up of some line infantry, front and back. For the drummer colors, i work on my imagination and taste.

Finally, the grenadiers -- I am planning on basing four grenadiers with both the main units, not for any pretension of historical fidelity, but, again, for a decision based on personal taste (and on the odd lot of Edition Brokaw bags, that come with 20 miniatures per bag whereas I need 24 figures for two units.

A few, final touches here and there, a dip, basing, and shoes: probably an afternoon worth of work, and hopefully by the end of next weekend these regiments will be battle ready.

The Saxe-Meiningen and the Abermarle regiments

As promised, today I can share a few pictures I took early this evening. First batch, it's the two red-clad regiments of Electoral Palatinate, the Saxe-Meiningen Regiment, and the Irish in French service Abermarle Regiment. The former can be recognized for the green trousers, while the latter shows green vest and red trousers/stockings.
In both cases, I painted the drummers in reverse colors. These figures are 15mm by Essex.
The first pic shows the two units on sticks.

I put some extra attention to the officers, standard bearers and drummers, and I am quite satisfied by the result, shown in the next picture.

Now a closer shot of the drummers.

And finally, a detail from the Abermarle Irish unit.

As usual, magnified pictures tend to exacerbate the little errors on 15mm figures, but overall I am quite happy of he outcomes. Next, I will apply the "magic dip", and finally I will paint the shows after the figures will be based. Still some work to do, but so far, so good!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


I hope to have some pictures soon, but at least I will go ahead and share some news about the good painting work that took place chez DestoFante. In a bout of hobby productivity, this past weekend I made some major advancement on a few regiments for the Marlburian period.
All of them are set up so that each unit can be deployed as one larger, 24-figure regiment, or a smaller 12-figure one. This solution offers me some flexibility in terms of rules and size of games that will be played (hopefully soon.)
For the time being I will stick to the "base-12 system," and list the latest additions: for the army of Electoral Palatine, there are three new infantry units completed, the regiments Saxe-Meiningen, Westerwald, and Haxthausen-Paderborn; a cavalry unit, Hochkirk, is almost completed, too. For the French army, I need to add some finaly touches to the Regiments Piedmont and Normandie, as well as the Irish Donnington and the Suisse Stuppa; a second Irish regiment, Abermarle, is ready to be based. There are three Spanish regiments near completion: Viejos and Nuevos Amarillos, and Milano grenadiers. And for the Imperial army, two regiments of infantry from Brandeburg-Bayreuth are receiving the final details.
Next: I need to work on two units of French Dragoons, one or two of Imperial cuirassiers, one of Palatine cuirassiers; I also need to catch up with some artillery.
To tell the truth, I am seriously considering to do some outsourcing for my painting job: the services of Mr. Fernando in Sri Lanka come highly recommended by a few friends who took this route, and since I expect to have little time to paint (and sleep, and eat...) once DestoFante Jr. will show up in a few weeks, I am actively readying myself for this alternative strategy.
Photos to follow soon!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Back home from vacation

We just returned from a nice vacation: by Amtrak, we completed a three-leg journey through America with stops in Denver, Salt Lake City, and Reno/Lake Tahoe. We are now back in Chicago, which unfortunately still offers a weather more suitable to October than July. And we are entering the final stretch of our little "summer project" -- DestoFante Jr. is expected sometimes in late August!
These days, I am spending more time building baby furniture (today, the crib and the changing station) rather than painting miniatures. But I hope that dynamic will change over the next few days. Since we are pretty much at the stage in which all is well taken care for, and we sit back and wait... oh well, you can kill the waiting time getting some painting done, can't you?