01 January 2010
Happy 2010 from the Grand Duchy of Stollen!
I can't believe it is 2010 already! How time does fly. Remember ten years ago when the world, it seemed, was in a tizzy over Y2K? The world was going to end the media told us. All I did to prepare was purchase a gallon of water and extra batteries for my Sony ICF2010 world band radio, which I had with me in Norway at the time. How odd it was to wake up on January 1st, 2000, after the frenzy of panic that consumed so many, look out the window at downtown Trondheim under a huge silvery full moon, and find that the world hadn't fallen to pieces overnight.
But what of the final hours of 2009 here at Stollen Central? Well, the Grand Duchess, Young Master Paul, and I spent a fairly quiet New Year's Eve together here at Stollen Central, watching an Ugly Betty DVD. We rang in the new year with a few flutes of champaign at midnight, and then continued watching Ugly Betty episodes until about 1:30, when we finally conked out. Young Master Paul blessed us by sleeping until 7:30am with only one feeding at about 11pm last night, so he seems to be catching on to more "normal" sleep patterns fairly well. I must admit that I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop however.
Managed to find about two hours for painting after dinner yesterday evening and applied the first coat of Future/Klear to the last nine cuirassiers. Funny how a glossy final coat not only smooths out the white areas, but it also makes the reds much richer and more vivid. It would be interesting to learn and understand the physics behind how this works. The "why" of it all in other words. Suffice to say that 2010 will see me continue to use and enjoy glossy varnish. While hardly realistic, it somehow helps to make wargaming miniatures come to life. Go figure!
Besides varnishing, I finished base-coating the Garrison artillery crew yesterday evening and even quickly reviewed the uniform in which I'll paint them (Von Kleist's Frei Korps), so I feel like something was accomplished there too. Apparently, there is some speculation about the exact uniform the Von Kleist artillery contingent wore. One source I found on the web mentioned dark blue coats, not unlike the Prussians, Hessians, and similar others. Another noted that no one is really sure what the Von Kleist artillery crews wore. And then there is the illustration I found thanks to a discussion on, I think, The Miniatures Page a couple of years ago, which shows a relatively plain dark green uniform for officers and men with the usual buff/white belts, gloves, etc.
That very illustration is featured in my December 17, 2009 post. At any rate, I'll use it as the basis for my crew's uniforms, adding lighter green facings and turnbacks with, maybe, some gold lace on hats and coats, just to liven things up a bit. But, speed will take priority over fancy painting this time. Oh, don't worry. I'll still paint neatly, of course, but this next unit will not have uniforms as fancy or complex as some that I've painted in the last 31/2 years.
Hmmmm. What else? Ah, yes! Yesterday afternoon, as Young Master Paul sat in my lap here in Zum Stollenkeller, cooing and drooling, I spent some time looking back through my entries for 2009 ("Captain's log, stardate 2310. . .") and taking stock of the Grand Duchy of Stollen project. 2009 was not quite as productive a painting year as others, though there was that 80-strong regiment of Von Flickenhoffer's Fusiliers, which took most of the year, along with the three squadron's (30 figures) of Anspach-Bayreuth Kuirassiere plus a few pairs of mounted officers and ADCs. Suffice to say, I won't be painting anymore troops in white uniforms for a while, a promise I made after finishing the fusiliers last July. . . only to turn around and start in the fall on the recently finished cuirassiers. Totally irrational and inexplicable behavior!
On a slightly more rational note, I used some of my Christmas money from the Grand Duchess' parents to place orders for a couple of those new Grant & Olley titles yesterday, which should be on their way to Stollen Central from the retailer On Military Matters, next week after the holiday weekend. I wanted to leave some funds for figures, so I restricted myself to the Wargamer's Annual and Wargaming in History: The Seven Years War. To say I am excited by the prospect of their arrival is something of an understatement.
As for figure purchases in the near future, well, I'll most likely stay the course and buy more RSM miniatures. I like these a lot. The proportions and size are good, they are very reasonably priced (even taking rising metal costs into consideration), and the service provided by Rich of the Dayton Painting Consirtium is top notch. Minden figures are very tempting but a bit dear for my wallet at the moment. The same is true for Stadden and Willie figures. Wonderful miniatures, to be sure, but priced a bit steeply for the 2010 Stollenian war budget I fear. I toyed with the idea of ordering some more Spencer Smiths, which I really like, but these don't do well when handled by the British and US postal systems and crossing an ocean via airfreight, with many arriving broken beyond repair in previous shipments. The damaged items have always been replaced quickly and at no charge, let me hasten to point out, but who wants the added hassle? Nope, RSM's it will be!
And what will I purchase? Well, for starters, a 30-strong battallion of RSM Pandours -- listed as Austrian Grenzers in the DPC catalog -- along with a 30-strong regiment of French cuirrassiers in bearskins. Hussars are certainly tempting, but I have a unit of those already, and heavy cavalry was more prominent in the 18th Century from what I've read. Eventually, I'll order an additional 19-strong company of Prussian musketeers too, to make up numbers for a final four-company, 80-figure unit of infantry (not part of my initial Sittangbad-sized forces), which will become a composite regiment, consisting of troops from the several inconsequential principalities that surround the Grand Duchy of Stollen and the Electorate of Zichenau. One company will resemble Russian troops of the period in green and red, and the other three will be painted in various German and/or French light blue and dark blue uniforms of the era. But, I'm getting a wee bit ahead of myself here.
Now, without turning this entry into a plodding retrospective -- if it's not plodding already -- I'll just make a few related resolutions for 2010. First, I want to paint more, schedule and Young Master Paul permitting. . . easier said than done, I'm sure. The completion of the basic Grand Duchy of Stollen project is in sight, namely to collect and paint two Sittangbad-sized forces. Afterwards, I'll add additional units, like the large composite infantry regiment described above, as time goes by ("You must remember this. . ."). Second, I want to play more games with my troops, using many of the wonderful Tabletop Teasers from Charles S. Grant's various books and articles. I'd also like to try writing and playing my own teaser, based on the Battle of Buena Vista, fought during the Mexican-American War of the 1840s. Next, I'm going to scratchbuild some balsa pontoons and maybe a wagon or two for a bridging unit. Finally, I want to wrap up my wargaming book project and see if a publisher is interested in it, or self-publish if the former is not a possibility. There's an awful lot written, a bit to finish, and assembly of the component chapters into a sensible order still to do as well as photographic illustrations to compile, plus editing and proofreading.
So, lot's to look forward to -- and, yes, attempt -- over and above "real life" with all of its time-sapping commitments, and the road to hell is indeed paved with good intentions, or so the saying goes. At any rate, here's to more painting, gaming, and reading in 2010! I think it's is going to be another good year.