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Toy Soldiers and. . . Cross-Country Skiing??!!

  T oo much to do here in Stollen Centrale lately! We had a long weekend cross-country skiing up in the northern part of Lower Michigan last weekend, and the shortened week back has been busy.  Meetings (and related email) seem to multiply in one's absence.  But there has been one saving grace.  The snow and cold here has meant that skiing has continued along local trails whenever a free window has appeared.   Today (Saturday) will see me make some time to complete glossing on the last dozen or so of my version of Austria's Wied Infantry. I've also discovered a group of six that still need some of their brass buttons painted (Grrr. . .) .  If all goes well, I might even be able to transfer the 60+ figures to their permanent 3mm ply bases tonight or Sunday.     Watch this space for a few photographs of the completed unit. Next in the queue, 15 Minden (or Fife & Drum) jaegers to paint as a generic unit although those of Ansbach-Bayreuth, in particular, will i
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Tying Up Loose Ends. . .

  The later uniform worn by Austria's Wied Infantry, courtesy of Kronoskaf.  We'll just ignore the erroneous nature of 1762 uniforms paired with flags from the War of Austrian Succession in the 1740s! F ollowing the Young Master's bedtime yesterday evening, I retired to Zum Stollenkeller for a couple of hours for some painting before my own bedtime.  The Grand Duchess is away until Sunday evening at a conference, so it's just the boys you understand. Anyway, I quickly added green corner tassels to the tricornes of the enlisted men (the gold for officers were done some time ago), and then went to work on touching up the two flags and adding a few very thinly diluted white highlights here and there.  Washes blend into previous paintwork nicely I find.   The trick with flags is to do this -- add highlights -- in a very random way, taking care to leave some of the slightly darker undercoat showing here and there.  The subtle results more closely approximate silk standards a

Looking Ahead to the Next Project. . .

  S trapped for time this week, what with the start of the new semester on Monday next (January 9th) and the usual preparation for that.  But I did take a few minutes to glue down a company of jaegers to their Litko 3mm ply bases last night before my own bedtime. I've gone this time for a mix of singletons and small vignettes on ROUND bases to represent light troops in more open order that can be sprinkled around the peripheries of tabletop battlefields.  Contrary to expectations, I like the look quite a bit.   So much that I will probably give my envisioned company of generic 'Double Blues,' which will form the other half of this composite light battalion, similar treatment when the time comes.  Hmmm.  I've also got a third, as yet unpainted, company of Croats that could do with a similar presentation.   But that is putting the cart before the horse and deviating from The Plan before we even get started in earnest.  Someone swat that butterfly, please!  In the meantim

2023 Targets Clarified. . .

  Y es indeed.   T he planning and painting muse is flitting about Stollen Centrale once again!  So, I must strike while the iron is hot.   Taking stock of things and inspired by a number of my fellows across Bloglandia, here is what I aim to paint -- and I've never been one to do this -- during the next 12 months: 60+ Wied Infantry (Austria) -- Almost Done  ------------ 15 Generic Jaegers (Minden) 15 Generic Frei-Infantrie "Double Blues" (Minden) 30 Saxon Cuirassiers (Eureka)  14 Russian Dragoons for The Young Master (Minden) 60+ Reichsarmee Infantry -- Specific Unit TBD -- (Minden) +____________ 134 figures in total, not including the 60+ Wied Infantry Ambitious, yes.  Especially in light of my usual plodding output.  But as Phil Olley once wrote, and I am perhaps paraphrasing badly here, "Man with no target hit nothing."  Time for targets then.   In years past, I used to keep and revise a painting progress and completion chart as things were finished when wor

Happy New Year from the Grand Duchy of Stollen!

  H ere's to increased painting output and more frequent games in 2023.  And just a kinder, gentler year than the last few. -- Stokes

Austrian Flags Almost Finished. . .

  N ot perfect, but they ought to look reasonably good at arm's length, aka "Wargamers' Distance."  A few small touch-ups later today after breakfast, and then it's back to the list of remaining tiny things "To Do" to get my version of Austria's Wied Infantry ready for glossing, permanent basing, and on the table.  Or at least into their barracks (a large plastic tub).  Frustratingly, my stock of Front Rank finials and cords needs replenishing.  Grrr.  What are you gonna do?  Next time. -- Stokes

Basic Flag Overpainting Started. . .

  T hank you for the book recommendations so far everyone!   I will look more closely at these later today. At the painting desk, I spent about two hours yesterday evening carefully applying various basic colors to the flags that will eventually grace my version of Austria's Wied Infantry.   60+ figures, thank you very much.  I know, I know.  No prizes, awards, or gold stars on my behavior chart taped to the refrigerator door are necessary.  Big battalions, squadrons, and batteries are just one more reason I should have my head examined.  Trying to hold myself to self-imposed standards in any case you understand.  Ahem.   But painting, collecting, and occasionally playing with large tabletop units are a kind of madness I can easily embrace and enjoy.  Blame Young and Lawford, the Grants, as well as certain other hobby cognoscenti and glitterati past and present.  Historical miniature wargaming encompasses many related activities, but it's all about "the look of the thin

Have You Any Book Recommendations for the New Year?

  O n the second mug of coffee after breakfast (and a glass of eggnog each) with the Young Master this morning.  Still in robe and pajamas listening to German Christmas music online and mulling over my hobby past, present, and future. As many of you will agree, reading, research, and the related inspiration are a large part of the wargaming life .  Somehow, the word 'hobby' seems too small and insignificant for such an absorbing, all-encompassing pursuit.  Right?   While they are a key part of things for many of us, wargaming in its broadest sense includes so much more than just the toy soldiers and miniature scenery.  So, I suggest a not-so-subtle change in nomenclature.  Wargaming 'life' it is! Yet again, I digress!  Returning to the point at hand, and because I have some Amazon birthday and Christmas money burning holes in my metaphoric pockets, at any rate, I seek suggestions for recent books specific to my own Frederickian, Napoleonic, and mid-19th century interest

Xmas Week Musing. . .

  A warm Christmas Week greeting to everyone who drops by first of all.   Come in!  Come in out of the cold.  Time for a little more of that seasonal gem├╝tlichkeit , or Scandinavian hygge if you will.  Sit down here by the fire, and I'll get you some fresh coffee along with a little something medicinal.  What would you like?   Well, Sir.  Can you believe our stollen for this year, baked by the Grand Duchess on the 23rd, is almost gone?  One of her best, it simply melts in your mouth, and the tiny addition of a bit more fruit than is called for by the German recipe has kicked an already delightful holiday treat into the stratosphere. In a nutshell, the Young Master and I have made short work of this year's triumph although the Grand Duchess has been able to enjoy a few bites too.  Now, I can never decide whether fresh coffee, or a glass of eggnog compliment the stollen better. So, naturally, we must conduct a side by side test at the breakfast table each morning.

Christmas Eve Skiing. . .

  M erry Christmas everyone!  We managed to hit a local trail just around the corner from the house for about 90 minutes midday today (Christmas Eve 2022) before returning home for hot chocolate by the fire, hot showers, dinner preparations, and dressing for dinner before the meal itself about 5:30pm.   Cold, fresh powder meant a nice glide today even as we broke trail, and I could have continued skiing for hours easily.  We have a Boxing Day jaunt planned about 20 minutes south of Lansing at Burchfield Park where there are extensive ski trails through the woods along the Grand River.  Glorious!  And they might have a chance to groom before we get there.    Can't wait! -- Stokes

Merry Christmas from the Grand Duchy of Stollen

  T he ground is white with fresh snow east of the sun and west of the moon in the far off Grand Duchy of Stollen. Billowing, silvery drifts are piled throughout the country. The rivers and lakes are frozen solid. The woods are still but for the distant jingle of sleigh bells in the bracing air. The sky is slate grey, and heavy coal smoke hangs over the villages and towns. It is Christmas Eve here in the Grand Duchy, somewhere very near to Frederick’s Prussia, sometime during the mid-18th century.  Citizens of Krankenstadt bustle to and fro through snow-covered streets of the small capital city of the Grand Duchy, running last minute errands before the Christmas festival begins in earnest. The red brick North German Gothic storefronts feature special Christmas items and treats like the marzipan for which the city is known, and the happy faces of children peek in through the frosty windows at the cheerful seasonal displays.  Street vendors peddle their wares in the town square, shout

Der Stollen 2022 Is Da!!!

    T his year's stollen, courtesy of the Grand Duchess, who dusted it with vanilla sugar a short while ago when it emerged from the over.  The yeasty aroma in the kitchen is ambrosial as my late maternal grandmother used to say about especially delicious foods.  When the stollen cools a bit more, we will enjoy a few inaugural slices with fresh mid-afternoon coffee.  --Stokes  


  A fter several sessions in the painting chair this weekend, applying brass buttons (really '24K Gold' Extreme Sheen by Deco Art) carefully to 60+ coats and lapels, we are getting very close to the final few items -- touch-ups, flags, glossing, and permanent basing -- for my version of Austria's Wied Infantry.  At long last.   Looking at old posts, I have been picking away at these since last July.  It will be very nice to finish the regiment and add 'em to my Zuchenauer army, which needs all the help it can muster given my usual tabletop performance against the Young Master.   Stay tuned! -- Stokes  

The 2022 Solstice Pineapple. . .

  S tarting in December 2020 (and what a year THAT was), we began a new tradition, that of The Solstice Pineapple.  We purchase and illuminate said pineapple with a short string of lights as it ripens on one corner of the kitchen countertop.   Once ripe, we chunk, eat, and enjoy it during Christmas Week, replacing the fruit with a second such specimen for New Year's.  It's a fun, quirky way to brighten up the kitchen during the darkest part of the year.   Yes.  My wife and I are certified weirdos.  But we don't mind. -- Stokes

Christmas Trees for 2022. . .

  A lovely Friday evening spent decorating the Christmas trees for this year to the tune of carols and jazz renditions of popular seasonal songs.  The Young Master even put down Flight Simulator long enough to join his mother to help finish the family tree in the library before bedtime.   The Grand Duchess and I later enjoyed a new bottle of very smooth and mellow French red wine. . .  followed by cups of Bailey's Irish Cream by the fireside -- We are such lushes. -- before turning in very late.  We even had about two inches of fresh snow falling slowly outside, so a very pleasant time all the way around. -- Stokes

The Light! The Light!

A fter some intense brushwork during the weekend, I can report happily that we are approaching the end of work on my version of Austria's Wied Infantry, which has been in progress, albeit haltingly, since, oh. . .  Last August?  In short, I can see light at the end of the painting tunnel with these 60+ figures. After fumbling my way through the regiment's three drummers (shoulder wings, drum cords, hops, etc.) on Saturday, and retouching poor ol' Drummer#3 yesterday afternoon, I moved onto touching up the dark brown musket stocks on all musketeers across the three companies.  I organize my units more or less according to the guidelines laid out by Young and Lawford in Charge!  Or How to Play War Games (1967) for those who might be scratching their heads. I next moved onto the officers' and NCOs' swords and/or scabbards yesterday evening after the Young Master's bedtime.  45 minutes, or so, later and the unit began to sparkle.  All of this is simply a long-winded

An Advent Painting Update. . .

N ot completely dead here in the Grand Duchy, just pulled in too many directions by "life" these last several weeks.   Nevertheless, I have managed to get my version of Austria's Wied Infantry to the detailing stage.  Still lots of little things to take care of for all 60+ figures, including the flags, but many of these are small enough that we are talking a slight touch of the brush to leave color behind (Buttons anyone?), and Bob's your mother's brother.  In theory at least.   Plus the inevitable and invariable touch-ups and clean-ups.  Looking at the photos, I need to clean up the dark brown musket stocks to cover areas where I went outside the lines with gun metal on the musket barrels for instance. And The Young Master has suggested a battle or two during Christmas week.  Good man!  He is always hankering after a larger affair though, so I am thinking a preliminary skirmish followed by a larger set-piece.  What do you think? ------------- In other news, the f