10 October 2006

What and Who Are Your OSW Favorites???

In view of a current discussion going on over at OSW about one's favorite old school battle reports, I thought I'd join in here. Of my regular visitors who "tune in" here regularly, what are your favorite "old school" figures and why?

Here, I mean specifically figures by older firms like Spencer Smith, Suren, Willie, Tradition, Holger Eriksson, Les Higgins, et al. Even older MiniFigs might be counted as far as I'm concerned. And how long have the RSM95 figures been around? Since at least the early 80s, I think, albeit under a different name at that time. If you know, please pass on on the information to me.

Unfortunately, I have no firsthand experience with any of these lines myself, but I've certainly drooled over the photos of others' collections and games at OSW, Battlegames#4, and elsewhere. Someday soon, I mean to buy enough metal Spencer Smiths and RSM95's for a couple of respectably sized infantry units, but I digress.

Any of you regular viewers have some personal favorites? If pressed, I'd have to go with the 30mm Prussian Grenadiers by Suren, those fine fellows who make up the famed Erbprinz Regiment in Young and Lawford's Charge! John Preese did a fine job recreating the unit in the recent refight of Sittangbad at Partizan 2006 last May too.

Anyway, I like the idea of larger figures with human proportions. No massive hands, squat legs, or Humpty Dumpty-sized heads. And, in fact, this is one reason the plastic Revell figures that I am using are so attractive to me. They look like humans! In any case, if the war treasury were suddenly bottomless here at The Grand Duchy of Stollen, I'd avoid figures by more "modern" manufacturers like Front Rank, Foundary, Essex, etc.

On a separate yet related note, who are your favorite old school authors? Do you have a particularly treasured book by one of wargaming's early luminaries? Think about it for a moment.

Like many of you, I suspect, mine are (in no particular order) Charge! by Peter Young James Lawford (I own two copies of this one), The War Game by Charles Grant, and Donald Featherstone's Battles with Model Soldiers. I also periodically revisit Featherstone's Complete Wargaming, which I purchased during a visit to family in Southampton, UK in December 1988. Good stuff!

Generally, I find myself reading and/or browsing through these 3-4 volumes again and again, often for hours in the evening. It's a great way to unwind before turning out the bedside lamp and drifitng off to thoughts of seried ranks of brightly painted model soldiers. The books are appealing to me thanks to the engaging way each author presents his subject. Young, Grant, and Featherstone manage to stimulate my own imagination repeatedly and without fail, much like a close friend who is good at conversation. Few modern writers on wargaming topics seem to acheive the right balance in all of this. Beyond that, it's hard to put my finger on "what" it is about these books exactly that (re)captures my imagination.

As a nod to my fellow enthusiasts over at OSW and at several blogs similar to this one (you know who you are, guys), I must say that many of the topics discussed stimulate my thinking in much the same way as Young, Grant, and Featherstone. Well done gentlemen!

So what about you now? What is your favorite old school figure range? Who is your favorite old school author? What is your favorite old school title? Why? Remember, as you cast your vote here, please be sure to include a few lines explaining why a particular figure range, author, or title grabs your imagination. Why does X, or Y, or Z appeal to you?

Ok, off to get in a bit of painting!


Bluebear Jeff said...

As for figures, the only ones I've ever seen first hand are RSM (which I am building my Saxe-Bearstein troops with).

Via photos, I really have liked a lot of the Suren and Willie figures -- but being on the west coast of North America, I've never seen them.

As for authors, hmmm, Grant's "The War Game" was the first classic that I read, so I have a special fondness for it. I didn't pick up "Charge" until years later.

-- Jeff


MurdocK said...

OSW? hmm...I think I fail on that one, since I can enjoy a game with 'board-game' elements in it. I can also enjoy a game that has many unpainted minis, or only part painted ones --> I really like it when everything is fully painted and well presented, but that does not mean I cannot play or enjoy games otherwise.

I like games that include the historical flavor of the period, even if that means including some 'role-play' into the mix. I think I get this from my RPG games background and somewhat theatrical take on many 'game' aspects...

I like the newer miniatures by the Perry twins and have enjoyed them alongside Hinchliffe, Minifig and Scruby's (I have a few of his 22-27mm sized Portugese and French).

For the minifigs, at least the Napoleonics, I only use the artillery gunners models, as the vast bulk of the rest of the minifigs Napoleonics in 25mm all have tiny heads or otherwise mishshaped bodies (usually wider than normal torso's so that the details could be sculpted) I understand why they are this way, but have shy'd away from painting them and putting them into the battalions due to their distinct different 'look'.

For OSW writers/rules I like Bruce Quarries take on the whole campaigning rules. As far as any of the really old rules go, most of them are too fixated on 'points' and minutae of how many bayonettes are in a unit along with the exact count of rounds. While this is a company officer's function, and I get that -- it should not be part of what a tabletop gamer needs to handle. On the toss of realism vs. playability, I land on the playability side --> expecially since I always seem to be training new game players over and over!

Though I have had some fun playing with 'Little Wars' with someone whom had 'playmobile' soldiers in his armies along with 'functioning' cannon! Talk about a blast!

Check out Little Wars

Better writers to follow are some primary researchers, my personal favorites have been Chandler (with The Campaigns of Napoleon -> a masterwork!) or Haythornewaite, with many titles.

As far as miniatures history goes, few have done better than The Courier, with their research seeming to cover the early period quite well.

I think in the parlance of OSW, I do not, nor do I want to, fit the bill.


Anonymous said...

Figure range - Hinchliffe for Horse & Musket (always had more character and presence than Minifigs), Garrison for ancients (my first proper, organised army was assyrian all from Garrison (fond memories of the "greyhound" horses). asgaard would probably feature in there too thanks to their barbarians and monsters which we used to use in our "Conan" games.

"Charge!" still my favourite OSW book (and features in my all time top ten wargaming books). well written, easy to read, excellent presentation and format. Everything you need to be inspired to go out and game. I have a hardback copy signed by the author which I never read (stroke and caress but not read) and a well thumbed paperback copy that is easy to get at.

Poruchik said...

I feel in love with Grants The Wargame and have lusted after the Spencer Smiths inside. To someday when I will build a few Regiments!I like the look of the games inside and it's trappings. I remeber reading with great anticipation the cavalry raid and have really wanted to run a campaign since that point.

I did purchase a number of years ago a Copy of Donald Featherstones book War Games, which really is the volume that started all of this for me. I did get him to autograph it at a convention, and eventually via eBay I was able to buy the AWI comicbook soldiers that a friend and I started with.


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