Sunday, 24 October 2021

Re-evaluating 'Miniature Wargaming the Movie'; plus progress

I did not think that I'd be interested in seeing the film Miniature Wargaming—the Movie, but I have gone from 'likely never' to a 'definitely want to see it'. This change came about firstly due to Keith Flint and secondly to LittleWarsTV, Greg Wagman in particular. Thanks Keith and Greg.

A recent post by Keith about the film on his blog led me to look at the review by Greg on LittleWarsTV (from January this year) and then on to the extended interview with Joseph Piddington, the director and producer of the film, in the LittleWarsTV (free) subscriber section.

Greg's frank, detailed and considered review had me interested. He described the quality of the production, the section on the history of wargaming (a recently piqued interest of mine!), which made me think that there would be enough there to interest me. He ended up suggesting to have a look at it, even though he had some reservations about it and felt that it presented a negative image of the hobby as the three/four stories used were not particularly up-beat (to paraphrase). The interview with Joseph, particularly the full-length one, sealed it for me. Here is a genuine and thoughtful person an aspiring young producer-director (no, of course, he is a producer-director) and a passionate wargamer who has produced a thoughtful and interesting film. The target audience is the 'general public' or perhaps, in Joe's words, that friend or relative who wants to know why we do this (seemingly) strange hobby. I reckon that I'll find it interesting too, even if there will be sections that I will not relate to and/or annoy me.

I am sure that the insights from 'industry insiders' about the nature of the business, especially the cottage-industry nature of it, will have much that will be new/news to me. Further to this I look forward to Joseph's next project which will be aimed more at wargaming enthusiasts and which I, as one who generally avoids kickstarter and the like, can see myself chucking in a few dollars to help get off the ground (and paying to view it once it does). I'll keep my eyes out for further news about it.

In the meantime, I'll have to find out how I can see the film. Part of Keith's post was about his annoyance at not being able to view it yet in the UK. Sadly, there was no mention in Greg's interview with Joe about a release in Australia—nor Europe for that matter. Hopefully it will be a matter of time.

Ah time. That limited 'resource' that seems to evaporate when we are doing things hobby.

The two videos mentioned above were really interesting, but were great from another perspective. The videos being chiefly about the words, as opposed to the visual, and those words being in English, meant that I was able to get some basing of my early Austrians done while 'watching' them! Here are a few photos.

No, not Brunswickers in kasketts, but early Austrians by Italeri. Undercoated some time ago, now most of the fiddly bits done and basing material added. Ready for a few more details and then white.

When I first got a box of these "Austrian Infantry 1798-1805" by Italeri, I thought that they were far to big. They are more like true 25 mm figs than 1/72. I then hit on the idea of basing them on really thin plastic card (the sort that comes as a base in those re-useable, material shopping bags). This is sufficiently thin to make them about the same height as 1/72 figures when the latter are based on my usual 1 mm ABS sheet.
As I have painted them I have liked the figures more and more. The detail is excellent, poses are good to excellent and flags and drummers are plentiful. They are fine
from 1792–1798 and I'll be using them for the Austro-Turkish War of 1788–1791 too. I have also recently found out that many units still wore kasketts in the Marengo campaign, so I'll  be using a lot of them for that too.
All this is just as well since I sought them out from several suppliers when I thought that they were difficult to get and have ended up with twelve boxes so far and another eight to come! Of the fifty figures per box, thirty-five are in kaskett, nine in helmets (including the officers above) and six
grenadiers (seen at the back of the photo above this one).

My basing material (green): PVA glue, acrylic paint, sand, old, dried coffee grounds and old tea leaves. Needs to be stirred often as the heavier materials sink to the bottom.
The latter are two materials that come from a beaut idea of Iain Dickie's in his "Wargaming on a Budget".
I like using this mixture as it is easy to mix, reasonably easy to apply and adds weight to the plastic figures without making them too heavy, plus aids binding them to the base.

Below are some more photos of my recent hobby 'travail'. It will not look much compared to posts of past progress, but there are some changes: adding 'fiddly bits' like facing colours, and metal for muskets, but also in converting figures to use for Grenz hussars, early uhlans and Polish-Italian legion uhlans.

Austrian Grenz hussars with Mézáros uhlans behind. In process of having more 'red bits' done. Also need some colour on the horses, of course!

As above, but with 'red bits' done, plus some artillery—the gunners in greatcoats are the only figures that I have at present. Nothing else is produced in plastic so I intend, later, to supplement these with some from Irregular and Newline.

Polish-Italian legion uhlans. Blue and crimson needed to make these look like something, plus some colour on the horses too.

French infantry, also with some of 'fiddly bits' done. A splash of red added to some of the grenadiers when I have had some 'decanted' paint to use up. Plenty of blue and white, plus some more red needed. Strelets "French Line Infantry in Egypt" with a few head swaps.

More French infantry, plus Napoleon at Marengo as one of my vignt-et-un Napoleons.

More French infantry, Strelets "French Line Infantry in Egypt" again, with some converted to flag-bearers using flags made from tin foil from Milo lids or from around wine bottles. The flags will be shaped once painted.

Consular guard (for 1800), three more of my vignt-et-un Napoleons and Napoleon's guides for 1796 (and I'll use the same figs for Egypt). A mix of many figures and conversions there.

Austrian grenz. I started these some time ago, then put them to the back while other figures (those above and my First World War figures) took precedence. The grenz units in Italy in 1796 (and in 1809) had white coats. I'd like to get all the Austrians to the stage of the white-coated grenz here by the 4th. Figures are Hat grenz and I'll use as is for 1796, despite the backpacks and blanket rolls being worn over each shoulder rather than slung. I considered some 'cutting and trusting' to convert them, but decided against it!

Most of the 2 mm Austrians. I'm doing them as circa 1809 (much as you can tell) and they have had yellow added, hence that colour standing out!

Julian and I are catching up for a session on the 4th. I want to have a go at the Battle of Voltri using a my first pass/adaptation of Kriegsspiel. It has been twice delayed due to 'other things' cropping up. I have been happy about that as it has given me more prep. time. I'd like to have the above figures looking a good deal like they are meant to, so at least have the base-coat done. Some more of the 'fiddly bits', some more basing and then I'll be applying white, white and more white;


  1. As observed in the past, I paint in "big" batches, but nothing like this, James. I need the steady flow of units marching off the painting table to sustain the necessary motivation to turn out still more! These will make quite a reinforcement pack when they are done! :-)

    1. Thanks Peter, encouraging as ever. (I almost included a note in my post to the effect that this 'update' was inspired by our 'discussion' in the comments on your blog and that hopefully your 'faith' in my ability to 'deliver' was not wishful thinking, haha!!)

  2. Thanks for the heads up on the movie James. I'll make a note to look into that when I have some time. Nice collection of figures you have there.

    1. Let me know if you find where you/we can get/view a copy Lawrence.

  3. I came across the reference to the wargaming movie a month or two back when paying one of my regular visits to Little Wars TV - not sure if I could sit right through it to be honest, my recollection of Gregs (and others) reviews made a lot of it sound a bit cringe worthy! You cdertainly seem to have a lot going on painting wise - I am always intrigued to come across "grown up" wargamers who still use the Hat/Italeri/Streltes etc 1/72 figures - if only they were produced in very hard plastic, I think they would be a lot more popular with the general gaming public!

    1. Thanks for your thoughts and comments Keith.
      I added a sentence to the post regarding some of Greg's reservations (not included originally as I was focussing on the aspects that changed it to a 'wanna watch' for me). Mind you, Greg did conclude by saying (along the lines of) 'have a look, it's not a big outlay and there is enough to make it worthwhile' from his perspective. As I mentioned, the interview with Joe, getting the background and some of Greg's questions answered, sealed it for me.
      Ah, the wargaming bias/prejudice against 1/72 plastics! Does it still exist? Perhaps it does. From what I gather, the magazines have become more and more like paid content (I have not bought one for years, partly for that reason—except for VaeVictis which takes a small 'c' catholic approach; i.e. 'universal'). It's amusing really isn't it, give the origins of the modern hobby and the figures that many used? Perhaps it came about as part of those 'business interests' (might even come out in the film)? I fell for the snobbery for a while in my impressionable 20s, then largely fell out of the hobby for ten years or so, but came back to it and to 1/72 in my wargaming renaissance this century. I began to be turned off metals when 15 mm change to 18 mm and 25 mm morphed into 28 mm figures, making them incompatible with 1/72 and a challenge with true 25 mm. I don't know what drove it (do you?), but it seemed a bit cynical to me. I'm not keen on the near-caricature style of many of the modern 28 mm figures, so solidly in the minority. In the end, isn't it great that we have so much choice? Almost a scale for every purpose, budget and scale of game!
      I am interested as to why you would like hard plastic? Polyethylene is far more durable, easier to work with (esp. convert) and the problem with paint is a myth. I have seen far more grey metal showing through 'proper wargaming figures' than yellow/grey/blue... through plastic 'toys'. They tend to 'bounce' when they drop off the table too! :)
      There are loads of blogs from people who are using 1/72, I am sure that you follow quite a few of them as there are lots in NZ (I did not go to check the 'following' list on your blog).
      When I started blogging I limited myself to those that were 'Napoleonic' (or at least with a lot of Napoleonic content). Now I follow many (too many to follow actually, haha) and the range of *everything* is quite marvellous. Your own is a bloody gem and always worth checking out!
      Regards, James

    2. Hi James, just popped back and feel I should respond to your comments, given the length of them and the very nice remark you made about my blog at the end!
      Perhaps my own personal bias against soft plastic is based on childhood/adolescent misconceptions. The later Airfix figures, as I have remarked elsewhere, were easily the equal of anything produced in any medium in the last 35 years. I just used to experience the paint flaking issue too often - but perhaps if I had washed them and used different paint and then sealed them with a matt varnish (like a grown up would do) they would have been fine. Plastic 1/72 seems very popular in continental Europe, the bias towards 28mm metal seems more Anglo American.
      I guess the scale creep can be put down to increasing desire from gamers for decent figures with a reasonable amount of detail - I have to admit, I feel very little nostalgia for the early 60's-80's metal figures such as Lamming, Minifigs and Hinchcliff - to be honest, I didnt think much of Hinchcliff even in the 70's, I always preferred Minifigs.
      I was reading the letters pages of some twenty to thirty year old WI magazines a friend gave me quite recently and it was amusing to read a few "old foggies" banging on about how no one will buy their old figures at bring and buy sections and bemoaning the fact that magazines are full of beautifully painted works of art that all gamers aspire to but few can match....I think that is the answer to your question about the increasing scale and the plethora of figures - a desire to create armies of visually appealing well painted miniatures.
      Another amusing thing from the old WI was some "well known" wargaming personality virtually deifying the Perrys and Wargames Foundry whilst doing a figure review ..."I personally shall only ever buy these figures for my own collections.." or words to that effect! Now nothing against the twins and I am sure they would not claim the title of Worlds Greatest Sculptors, but for a while that sort of attitude permeated too - to be honest, I only ever thought Foundry figures were nice - I preferred Front Rank - and the hype around them was way over the top in my opinion - plus they were over priced AND they introduced the horrible idea of blister packs!
      I have just reread my comments and corrected the multiple typos, and have realised that I have gone on a bit, so will close here!

    3. Thanks for such a long, considered and interesting reply Keith. You did not 'go on' at all. I read with great interest; and plenty of nodding! We differ about the classic 25 mm figs, but I agree with you wholeheartedly about Front Rank. IF I were to go to 28 mm figures they would form a substantial part of the collection, I reckon. I made a little 'trophy' for my Dad many years ago of his regiment (5th Dragoon Guards), featuring a 28 mm figure through the ages (some 5th Dragoon Guards, others Inniskilling Dragoons)—there were plenty of Front Rank figures amongst them!
      Thanks again for your follow up comments.

  4. Mentioning the aversion to 1/72 figures. Of course, Zvezda and Italeri are that scale and sell quite well.
    I'm supposing the Airfix figures are seen as 'childish' nowadays. Quite sad considering there role in the early days of the hobby.

    1. Any 'aversion' might go back to flaking paint when we did not prepare the figures properly. I have no problem now, but wash and rinse thoroughly, undercoat, base-coat, highlight, varnish and, in recent times, even add a spray of plasti-dip for good measure!
      There are manufacturers and ranges to suit just about any taste in any scale now, aren't there?!

  5. Considerable progress as always, advance in every direction! I suppose soft plastic causes aversion in my case because of previous adolescent flaking experience plus I find 28mm quite small enough to try and paint as it is!
    Best Iain

    1. Thank you Iain. 28 mm small enough, love it. Not gonna join me in doing some 2s then?!!