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Showing posts from July, 2007

Back to the Grand Duchy!

Hello there men! The Grand Duchess and I have just returned from 10 days camping on Michigan 's upper peninsula, where some of my Cornish ancestors went to work in the copper mines that used to operate up there, not far from the shore of Lake Superior , in the 1870s and 80s. Very beautiful nature, wildlife, cooler summer weather, and fascinating regional history. It's hard to believe the level of industry and accompanying population that existed up there at one time when looking at the small, picturesque towns and villages along US Highway 41 today. At any rate, we returned yesterday, following an evening in my old stomping grounds ( Madison , Wisconsin ). Now, the run up to fall semester starts since school begins again in only a few weeks. That means syllabi to write or update and other assorted administrative things to take care of. Sigh. On a more interesting note, there is the translation project I've been contracted to do -- a bunch of articles and chapters on Norweg

Just add a pinch of this, a dash of that, and puree!

Frank Hammond reports over at the Old School Wargaming Yahoo group that he has also been bitten by the apocryphal 18th century warfare bug! He also asked how one might go about setting things up. Frank mentioned that he already his a small order of RSM95 figures on the way from the United States -- Good man! Off the top of my head, there are several things one should consider when taking the plunge. So, here's a quick and dirty guide to designing one's own imaginary dukedoms, principalities, and kingdoms. First, I'd suggest diving right in with a writing pad and several sharp pencils. Pick names for your countries and their respective rulers first. Play around with different combinations on paper. Look for inspiration from the history books and so on. You probably know already that Henry Hyde has written several good articles on this kind of thing in his Battlegames articles. He also recently posted a twenty year old article he wrote for Miniature Wargames at OSW. It&#

Figure Review: 30mm Spencer Smith Dragoons

About a week ago, you’ll recall, my wife Sonja (the Grand Duchess of Stollen) presented me with a regiment of 30+ Spencer Smith cavalry (in the classic charge pose, seen at left above) plus two Holger Eriksson figure (the trumpeter and guidon bearer at right), following her return from two months in Berlin. After several days of admiring these beauties set up over on my painting/radio desk, it seems like a good idea to provide at least some review commentary on these figures. So, here we go. To begin with, the Spencer Smith 18 th century cavalry range is not entirely complete in that it generally lacks musicians and standard bearers. One can easily remedy this, though, by purchasing/using figures from the Great Northern War range of Holger Eriksson figures to plug the gap. Purists may balk, but it’s really not as bad as it might seem. In fact, there is little to no difference between the two ranges other than that the HE figures are somewhat more finely sculpted. But once

Heavy Cavalry Regiment Dispatched to Observe Along Frontier

Krankenstadt, The Grand Duchy of Stollen – A regiment of Cuirassiers has been sent to the frontier between Stollen and its neighbor to the southwest, The Electorate of Zichenau. The three-squadron strong body of cavalry will join detachments of the Leib Grenadiers and artillery, currently functioning in an observation role along the Lesser Zwischen River. General von Schpargel, brother-in-law to the Leib Grenadiers’ Colonel von Spasticus, along with a small staff has been placed in overall command of the Stollenian troops now stationed along the river separating the two countries. The situation behind the build-up of Stollenian troops along the Lesser Zwischen is due to recent developments across the river in the Electorate of Zichenau. Yesterday, news leaked from Zichenau that Prince Ruprecht VII had been found dead. Since the prince left no known heirs, his mother, Princess Antonia of Tauroggen-Fiebus, assumed the throne and immediately sent troops to occupy several key poin

Tragedy Befalls Zichenau's Prince Ruprecht VII!!!

Krankenstadt, The Grand Duchy of Stollen -- The recently returned Prince Ruprecht VII of the Electorate of Zichenau (shown at right) was found dead in his chambers this morning, the apparent victim of poisoning. However, royal doctors have not confirmed this possibility as yet. A bowl of half-eaten figs was found nearby. The exact whereabouts of his paramour, the Princess Valerie of Pillau-Zerbst, are unknown. Prince Ruprecht VII had only just returned from a year in exile, residing in the city of Boston in the American colony of Massachusetts . He and Valerie eloped just a little over one year ago, in the face of her approaching marriage to the French mercenary General Philip de Latté, currently in the employ of the Electorate of Zichenau. At this time, it is not known whether de Latté had anything to do with the death of Ruprecht, although his precise whereabouts are also unclear at present. In the meantime, Ruprecht’s mother, Antonia of Tauroggen-Fiebus, has declared he

Summertime Reading in the Grand Duchy of Stollen

Ugh! The hot, sticky weather has returned to Central Illinois this afternoon, so the cat and I are sequestered in the air-conditioned spare bedroom that doubles as my office and hobby area with a big, icy glass of pink lemonade. And the Grand Duchess Sonja has bitten the bullet and journeyed to her office at school to wade through the stack of mail accumulated during her absence. Personally, I think it’s really because the buildings over on campus are centrally air-conditioned and refreshingly chilly during hot spells. But, let’s hit the books! Donald Featherstone’s Military Modelling (1970) arrived here at Stollen Central from Amazon Marketplace a couple of days ago. A first edition in excellent shape for less than US $10! A truly rare occurrence, but as I noted to the Grand Duchess, “I guess the amazingly low price is indicative of the demand for this particular book!” Anyway, I would say that this volume might be an interesting, but certainly not essential, additio

25-30mm Figure Comparison

Juts messing around with various things on and beneath my painting desk today, and I thought some of you might be interested in seeing how the various ranges of figures I am using for the Grand Duchy of Stollen Project compare to one another. So, take a look at the two photos above. From left to right you see the following: A 25mm RSM95 mounted infantry officer, a 30mm Spencer Smith mounted officer, a 25mm MiniFig “Frederick the Great”, and finally a plastic 1/72 Revell Austrian dragoon trooper. Not a huge amount of difference in height between the four miniatures, although the latter two are a bit shorter in stature. It’s also interesting to see the difference in sculpting style and in proportions. Although I am a fan of MiniFigs (and in particular their 15mm Napoleonics of which I have 2000+), I think that their 25mm SYW range leaves a bit to be desired where correct human proportions are concerned. Specifically, the three 25mm MiniFig mounted SYW generals in my

Uniform Design for Grenadiere zu Pferd

After messing around with one a David von Tippelbruder's Prussian dragoon templates, I've developed a design for the eventual uniform of the Spencer Smith/Holger Eriksson cavalry so kindy recruited by the Grand Duchess Sonja. This will be the basic troopers' uniform. Officers will have folded back lapels that show orange along with gold lace rather than yellow. The trumpeter's uniform will feature reversed colors for both uniform and saddle cloth. If my hand is super-steady that day and my patience remains plentiful, I'll add some extra yellow/light blue lace to the sleeves and back of the trumpeter's coat. Finally, since this will be a heavy regiment, I'll paint most of the horses black with some very dark brown highlights on the rumps, necks, and muzzles. The trumpeter and colonel will ride greys, of course! All of this sounds terribly exciting, doesn't it? But I'm getting ahead of myself by a couple of months -- Whoa! Down boy!

And now, here they are -- The Spencer Smiths!!!

The poor Grand Duchess Sonja! Thanks to delays, bad weather, and canceled flights, it took her almost three days to make it home from Berlin ! I met her yesterday evening just before midnight when her connection from Atlanta FINALLY arrived here in Bloomington-Normal. . . almost three hours late. No thanks to Delta Airlines! In any case, Sonja is exhausted and catching up on some real sleep in an actual bed. Of course, this leaves me to my own devices for the evening. And as you know, when there is some extra time, new figures to ogle, and Norwegian radio (NRK Program 1) playing in the background online, it’s a lethal combination! So, for your viewing pleasure, here is the promised new regiment of Spencer Smith cavalry, which will eventually become the Electorate of Zichenau’s Grenadiere zu Pferd – or horse grenadiers to you and me. Aren’t they lovely? Nicely proportioned with enough raised detail to make painting fairly easy. Have you spotted the two Holger Eriksso

The Grand Duchess Sonja's Return Imminent

The Grand Duchess Sonja’s plane from Berlin should touch down at New York ’s JFK airport in the next couple of hours. She’s finally on her way home after two months of wurst, d ö nnerkabab, and bad GDR disco films from the 1970s! Ah, the glamorous life of a pop culture historian! ;-) And tucked carefully into Sonja’s carry-on baggage is a regiment of 30+ Spencer Smith dragoons – troopers with sword pointed forward, officers with raised sword, and a couple of extra figures to use as a trumpeter and guidon bearer. Just like those we’ve ogled for years in Charles Grant’s The War Game and elsewhere. I’ll post a few pictures of the new regiment in formation here in the next several days. For now, I’ve got to dust and vacuum – that’s “hoover” for my British and Commonwealth visitors.