The blue and orange grand ducal banners are flying from
Why? Well, tomorrow -- August 19, 2007 – marks the first anniversary of The Grand Duchy of Stollen blog! It’s been a good year for the Grand Duchy of Stollen project. So, it seems like a nice idea to review briefly some of the more notable milestones (or perhaps millstones?) of the passed year.
To begin with, let's look at the figures, undoubtedly the most important part of all. Thanks to my own efforts, and with some loving help from the Grand Duchess Sonja at certain key points along the way, I’ve made a reasonably significant inroad into assembling and painting the imaginary armies involved – just about 200 figures and counting at this point with lots more waiting in the wings.
Ok, maybe that’s a relatively small painting output, judging by the work of some, but more figures than I’ve ever managed to paint in a year before! At the moment, I’m all ready to begin work on assembling a small force from the Electorate of Zichenau to oppose the units fighting for The Grand Duchy of Stollen, with which I’ve been busy for much of the last year.
As many of you will know already, the figures I'm using for the project are mostly plastic Revell 1/72 SYW. But I've also added a few compatible 25mm MiniFigs, a lovely regiment of 30mm RSM95 grenadiers, and some 30mm Spencer Smith cavalry in the classic “charge” pose. Right now, the latter is consigned to a box under the spare bed until I can clear the decks of the current painting project.
Perhaps surprisingly, the largish 1/72 Revell figures are perfectly compatible with their 25-30mm metal bretheren. Although sometimes slightly shorter, these plastics are as well proportioned as the RSMs and Spencer Smiths, so they are nicely suited for use next to each other in my view. Particularly when grouped into units of 30-80 figures. At some point in the near future (before rising metal prices drive up figure prices again -- GROAN), I'd also like to add a few Willie or Tradition/Stadden generals and maybe a regiment of Spencer Smith infantry or another of RSM95s. The latter's grenzer figures are certainly tempting!
But what about real estate for these armies to fight over? Well, the last year has seen some progress here too. You might recall that I have used the red brick , North German Gothic style, seen throughout the Baltic region of Europe thanks to the medieval
Fine, but what about vegetation? Well, that's covered too. There was the huge batch of birch trees, sold by a baking supply company as cake decorations that I purchased for a ridiculously small sum last winter. And don't forget the two boxes of Zvezda fir trees. Combined, these will provide enough trees to sprinkle several copses around any fictitious battlefield in the Prussian/Baltic region (where the Grand Duchy of Stollen et al are supposed to be) that I might set up -- or even some dense forest areas for small scale skirmish scenarios.
There are also a couple of Ian Weekley-designed resin cast, round pavilion tents waiting over on the painting desk to be painted as "headquarters" for the opposing generals too. These are similar to those used by Phil Olley in his varous games, and I couldn't resist tracking some of them down myself. So, except for a few “Old School” layered hills, most of the terrain for the project is done -- or at least waiting to be done! Oh, and once the Grand Duchess and I have found and bought a house, THEN the 6'x8' table painted a light green will finally become a reality. At last, at last (insane laughter and obsessive-compulsive rubbing together of hands)!
But of course, every good fictitious campaign, whatever the era in which it is set, should have a solid historical basis. So let’s not forget all of the reading and research into the real political/social/military history of the 18th century that I've enjoyed in the last twelve months. Besides learning something about
And then there have been the various "Old School" titles by the likes of Charles Grant, C. S. Grant, Tony Bath, Donald Featherstone, and most recently, Stuart Asquith. It's been as much fun learning about the hobby's roots as it has "real" mid-18th century
On a closely related note is the creative aspect of the project unrelated to the painting of figures – maps, army organization charts, uniform designs, bizarre characters, silly narratives, and the like – all of which have made things a lot of fun here at Stollen Central. After all, who could forget the various Grand Duchy of Stollen personalities like Oberfeldwebel Klatschen and his duel with that arrogant fop Colonel Lebrecht von Cranz, or the semi-insane Grand Duke Irwin-Amadeus II, dressed in his gamey lobster costume, featuring two left-handed claws? Don't forget the jovial Prussian ambassador to Stollen, Herr Heinz von dem Salat either.
And let’s not omit the Grand Duke’s poor minister, Herr Heinrich Schatzi von Pelznikkel, who had to climb into the palace fountain and publicly bathe his monarch after forcibly extricating him from said lobster costume in mid-June. Then, there was the massive pie fight that ensued nearby on the palace grounds shortly after the royal bath. Apparently, life in the Grand Duchy of Stollen is like an old Keystone Cops film!
But back to the figures for a moment, where there has been an opportunity for some interesting work. Last December or January, I completed the first dozen of so of thirty eventual 1/72 plastic cavalry conversions. When finished, these will be painted as a unit of cuirassiers. As I mentioned here many months back, Revell neglected to include these troops as part of their SYW range. So, I purchased a couple of boxes of Zvezda Saxon Napoleonic cuirassiers (who wore only a breastplate) and have been occasionally replacing their helmeted heads with the heads of unused Revell Austrian musketeers (kneeling pose), who wear tricornes.
I've never done conversion work before, and while it is slow and painstaking at times, the results are generally very good. There were a few photos here of the initial batch of conversions -- a dozen or so. When the entire unit is finished and painted (maybe during Christmas Break this year?), I'll have some photos of the mustered cuirassiers right here for your viewing pleasure.
And finally, just when I thought that I had found all of the joy a hobby can bring, something else turned up! As many of you are aware, there has been, in recent months, an increasing number of highly inventive and entertaining imaginary 18th century blogs, created and developed by you -- the (semi)regular visitors to the Grand Duchy of Stollen (over 12,500 this morning) -- as part of your own Age of Reason warrgaming projects. To say that your countries, monarchs, and related histories have been great fun to read about is putting it lightly.
Your blogs, too many to mention individually, likewise serve as continuous inspiration to me where the future direction and painting for my own project are concerned. Funny how this cross-polination works, isn't it? Creativity within one sector seems to breed creativity in a dfferent sector. Now if we could collectively just figure out how to bottle this stuff and sell it! Quitting our day jobs might just become a serious possibility. Suffice to say, it's great to learn that there are at least a few others out there, who are as loony as me!
At any rate, it would be easy to continue, patting myself on the back about this or that. But let's dispense with the self-congratulations and wrap things up like this -- Without further ado, I tip my hat to all of you and your own creative endeavors. Thank you for your continued interest in and support of the Grand Duchy of Stollen. Long may your wargaming projects and countries of the imaginary 18th century live and prosper! Hip, hip, hip!!! Hurrah, hurrah, hurrah!!!