Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

The aftermath of the carol service

Last nights party was a roaring success, everyone was very impressed with the War Room and how the house has progressed. It was great to see everyone and the drinking, chatting, dancing and merriment lasted long into the night.  There was also some very nice wargaming related loot - which will have to wait for another post. 

Santa is on his way

I woke feeling slightly delicate - though Mrs Kinch who is made of sterner stuff had risen early. She advanced on the prostrate Kinch with eggs and bacon and list of jobs that needed to be done. We had a wonderful day. We took in the Nine Lesson & Carols service at Saint Patricks, where we got to see Mrs. Kinchs ten year old cousin sing for his first Christmas service. Then on to my parents where we swapped presents and had a rare old time.

All is well

I am reminded by Lee of what a pleasure it is to be part of such an electic bunch of bloggers. It has been a very up and down sort of year, but J&F has always provided me with somewhere to retreat to. It's been a pleasure reading you all this year and long may it continue.  If my rambling have offended, remember they are a story told by an idiot signifying nothing.

And if you really want to see how to write a Christmas blog entry - look no further. 

All that remains to do is to wish you all a very Merry Christmas from Mrs. Kinch, Flashman, Sissi and I.

May God bless us every one.

And to all a good night. 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Parcels & Progress

A surprise in the post from Young Master Gow

I was very happy to arrive home the other day to discover a parcel waiting for me from Young Master Gow, who took some time away from scrumping apples and skinning his knees on things to send me a surprise. This was a boxful of American Civil War spares in 1/72.  Now as it happens I have no intention of doing the War between the States in 20mm, however, I have learned from Carlo that there is an extraordinary number of mid 19th century European armies that can be produced using these figures and I will be sorting them with that in mind. 

Many thanks and the compliments of the season to Young Master Gow - I only hope he gets something just as nice underneath the tree. 

Which reminds me I still have pictures from Old John of some Danish ACW conversions to share with you. Must get weaving on that. 

A surprise for my father in law

My father in law told me a story while we were away about a particular cake that his mother used to bake that had white icing and that was always topped by an iceskating lady mounted on a small mirror. My father in law has been doing trojan work here at Chez Kinch and this seemed like a nice surprise and the least I could do considering all his hard work. The basic models is a ballerina from Prince August's Steadfast Tin Soldier set. Adding iceskates was actually the trickiest aspect of the conversion.  I tried wire, which looked odd, plastic card, which was far too big and then settled on paper, which worked. 

A hat and scarf were added with greenstuff and the base trimmed to sit an a small mirror. Mrs. Kinch sacrifised an old compact to provide the mirror and I gingerly levered it out without causing seven years bad luck for which I am very grateful. 

There has also been some more good news - 

- The War Room floor is finished. We have to wait 72 hours before the last coat of varnish can take "heavy traffic", but the long slog is finally over. Hurrah!

- Even better, there is a new addition to the extended family. Ed & Aoife have had baby Alexander, ten fingers and ten toes, all healthy and well. There is much rejoicing. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The couple that paints together

So there are paintbrushes flying in the Kinch household

I hadn't actually anticipated that these would be as awkward to paint at they proved to be.  Unlike most normal flats they don't have a base, so there isn't really anywhere one can hold them that doesn't take paint. I'm just working in shifts and flipping them as needs be. 

Fortunately, Mrs. Kinch has her eye on something a little more sensible (to say nothing of easier to paint) for next year. 

And speaking of Mrs Kinch. 

Three coats of varnish done, one to go!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas in the Kinch household

Floor completely washed and stained

There's been precious little time for blogging of late as Christmas is in full swing here at the Kinch household. Due to a minor miracle of rosters falling right, my rest days fall directly on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and St. Stephen's Day, so for the first time in seven years I won't be working in some capacity on Christmas Day.  Mrs. Kinch is really excited and we're hoping to make the most of what will be a very, very rare occurence.  My folks will be joining us for Christmas dinner and we're pushing to get a lot of things done in the house in the meantime. 

Amongst these are the floor in the War Room, which is awaiting it's first of several coats of stain.  I'm very happy about this and I think it's going to look very well indeed. With a bit of luck it should be finished in time. There is a lot of picture hanging to be done.

Mrs Kinch is very happy with how the kitchen is coming along (note new tiles in background of picture below) and it looks like we should have two rooms pretty much finished this year. 

Taking a leaf out of Ross's, Mosstroopers and many others books. 

One of the joys of clearing out is finding things that you've forgotten. I found my Prince August moulds the other day and I've started casting again.  It's funny how the old tricks of the trade, like venting the mould, warming it and using copious amounts of talc, all come flooding back after five minutes casting. 

Not Father Christmas
"I am not a Jolly Man"

And speaking of the Christmas spirit, I recieved this from JB over at Lead Plague just before we went to Germany.  It's an old Adeptus Mechanicus figure from Citadel.  JB is a fine fellow mostly usually found on the Oldhammer Forum and I'd picked this chap up on Ebay with some other bits and pieces. JB was looking for a figure that I had a double of, but found himself short of something to trade. I said that if he painted one of my figures that would be ample. You can see some more examples of JBs painting skills over at his blog

JB not only painted the figure I sent him, but also found something that was on my own wants list and sent that as well. I would have been very happy with my friend above, my lousy photography not really doing justice to JBs lovely paintwork, but to get another figure as well. The Freemasonry of the hobby is certainly alive and well in France. What a generous gift. 

There are no toys in this sack

This fellow will be stomping around the swamps and space stations of a certain Dark Future in the New Year. I've grown quite fond of playing Rogue Trader, just throwing a few figures together and coming up with a story. It's a very pleasent way of spending some time with friends who don't really care for historicals. 

Thanks again JB. 

What I've been casting

When Mrs Kinch saw these moulds she immediately started hatching cunning plans. As a result I've been casting like the Krupp iron works all evening.  I am pleased with the result though and painted examples will be gracing these pages soon. 

Phew! There's a lot of work in this Christmas stuff. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Haben Sie Gehort Das Deutsche Band!

Haben Sie Gehort Das Deutsche Band? 

Mrs. Kinch and I have just returned from Germany where we had a wonderful time. We spent most of it drinking gluhwein and buying the odd Christmas decoration.  Hanover was a bit of a washout as Hurricane Xaver meant that everything closed.  We managed to find a relatively secure gluhweine spot and watched the snow billowing.  Mrs Kinch was completely enchanted with all the lights and stalls and music. 

When we arrived in Berlin, I nipped off to Berlin Zinnfiguren. What a wonderful place! I was surprised that there were so many books. It was great to see, but I managed to keep my wallet under control. I got Mrs Kinch some painted flats that are Christmas decorations. The stuff I was interested in was so expensive that I could legitimately look at it without desiring it. The only other thing I was tempted by was a Prince August crib set - trust me to travel to Germany and fancy something from Cork!

While we were wandering around Hanover, we came across this Steif bear window display, complete with marching bears. 

Just before the storm hit, we went to the medieval market near the Market Kirk. It was quite lovely with lots of folk in costume.  There were a variety of stalls, one of which was a stall where one could shoot a crossbow for a small fee. My father in law and I gave it a whirl.

All I could think of was that we would never get away with this at home...

...someone would definitely end up with a quarrel in the eye.

Ernst August of Hanover

And curiously enough 3rd Earl of Armagh, though he was the last Hanoverian monarch to hold a title from the British Isles. 

A medieval scene in flats from Berlin Zinnfiguren - beautiful, but an eye watering €445

While we were away it was extremely cold and it started to snow. Snow is something of a novelty to Irish people, I've seen it at home three times in thirty three years. 

While we were walking through Hanover, it began to snow and Mrs Kinch was so happy she started to dance. I managed to get one picture, but I think this may be my favourite picture of her. 

A Panzer Nashorn or Armoured Rhino 

Unfortunately we were unable to go to Hanover Zoo, which is excellent, and to which we have been before because of the hurricane. So we went to Berlin Zoo instead. We rather like zoos on the whole and are quite lucky to have one of the best in Europe in Dublin. Sadly, Berlin Zoo is not quite up to that standard, but we did have a good time. We saw some interesting animals, though I thought the big cat and elephant enclosures were very, very small.

I was particularly taken with this armoured rhino which was an animal I'd never heard of.

And suddenly Durer's rhino who I always thought was a bit fanciful makes a great deal more sense.  

If you've ever wonderful what a baby rhino tantrum sounds like - it sounds a bit like this. The small rhino is a year old and isn't happy about being weaned. 

Mrs Kinch running away from an ornamental bear


Fatou, the matriarch of the Berlin band of gorillas. She looks rather well don't you think? 


One doesn't like to ask a lady's age, but these things are done differently in Germany.   

Sally Bowles screamining under a bridge while a train passes over head. 

I read "Goodbye to Berlin" by Christopher Isherwood in my early twenties and it formed my entire picture of Berlin, even Len Deighton's Harry Palmer hasn't managed to wrest my imagination from its grip. It was only when I met Mrs Kinch when I was 24 that I learned of the musical and the film of the book.   


We had to wait ages for a train...

Because of the hurricane, our time was brief and my trip to the Zeughaus museum (where they do not allow photographs) was very brief. The day after we got to go to Charlottenberg, the palace built by Frederick the Great's mum, Sophie Charlotte. It is an extraordinary place and worth a blog entry in itself. I shall glide over some of the highlights here. 

The palace contains a vast collection of ceramics, including a great deal of chinoiserie. This particular display is only a very small part of a huge room completely covered in china. 

A picture of Alte Fritz himself hanging at the entrance to the palace's chapel. 

General Zieten of Waterloo fame. 

"I like it, but I don't think it would go with the carpet in the parlour." Mrs Kinch examining the furniture, it was rather cold hence my jacket. I doubt she will thank me for putting this picture up. 

I have no idea who this chap is - there was something of a shortage of labels.

Our last meal in Berlin and probably our best, this place was amazing. The interior is a glittering Art Deco confection and the food was superb. It was a wonderful end to a really enjoyable trip. 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Kaiserlicks & Khan!

Kaiserlicks advancing under fire. 

I'm sitting here with my copy of Command & Colours: Austrians or at least I'm sitting in the same country as it. It has arrived, but has been seized by customs where it will be held until such time I pay additional duties, there will of course be a fee for paying those additional duties.  

What made the situation all the better was the news from Du Gourmand that his copy had arrived, undetected by Customs and that he was playing it at the time. I think it was the mocking laughter over the phone that made the moment all the special. 

As Mr. Shatner would put it. 

My vengeance will be swift and terrible and will probably involve inflicting exercise on Du Gourmand in merciless amounts. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Carlo's Conversions

This chap has a great deal of explaining to do.

I've been toying with the idea of wargaming the mid 19th century for a long time now and I've come to the conclusion that I'm going to have to come to it gradually. Neil Thomas's book is very nice. Ordered from bookdepository on the recommendation of a friend. A handsome book, a mix of potted history and solid wargaming stuff. I liked his approach, small armies and small tables. I doubt the rules will lure me away from my favoured horse and musket set, but I might nick bits and pieces for my own Crimean adventure and dare I say possibly Italian or Hungarian entanglements. I was sorry to see that he didn't cover Radetsky at all, who really is a favourite of mine, but the Garibaldini seem suitably fearsome. I enjoyed the discussion of why the rules worked the way they did. There's a shedload (that's an Imperial shedload, rather than metric) of historical scenarios, there were a few that I missed, but on the whole it's a very good selection and there are some nice generic scenarios for pickup games. A book I will want to reread to get the most of it, but I think a fella could have a very good time indeed with some of Peter Berry's Bacchus figures, this book and a two by two board.   

I on the other hand am wedded to 1/72.  There aren't that many ranges for the period, barring Strelets luxurious Crimean range and some Irregular Miniatures. I had come across a bag of American Civil War plastics while I was clearing the box room and wondered aloud to a group friends on email what could be done with them. I got involved in a discussion about how one could do 19th century wargaming used conversions and through Old John, I met Carlo (who doesn't appear to have a blog).  

Papal Zouaves - Tumbling Dice figures
(spellcheck appears to be trying to correct this to Papal Suaves) 

I got talking to Carlo and shortly thereafter, an absolute torrent of pictures arrived. Carlo plays the Neil Thomas rules above and consequently can get away with quite small armies. He is a man of incredible inventiveness and real skill when it comes to looking at a wargames figures and realising the possibilities contained therein.  He has very graciously given me permission to post some of his conversions here. 

Garibaldini from American Civil War plastics

More Garibaldini 

I can spot quite a few Italeri plastics in there I think. 

Piedmontese Line

I think the marching figure is an Airfix - but I'm not 100%. 

Austrian Grenzer Infantry from American Civil War Airfix figures

1866 Hanoverians from Airfix Federals 

Danish Infantry from American Civil War figures

 Considering the extraordinary variety of armies Carlo has managed to churn out using these figures, as well as the pictures I haven't shown you plus some Scandinavians from Old John, there's a galaxy of things that can be done. I fear something has sneaked onto the project list. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The First Carlist War by Conrad Cairns

I was dimly aware of the First Carlist War after reading a little bit about the Portuguese Civil War of the time when it came up in an Allan Mallinson novel, but I'm always interested in what Savage calls "...a funny little war that no-one else has ever heard of..."

If like me, you were a little fuzzy on the ins and outs of it, here is my Cliff notes summation of the conflict.

The First Carlist War is one of a series of Spanish Civil Wars that ended with that one that happened in the 30s that Picasso painted the picture about. The ostensible cause of the whole thing was an 18th century style succession crisis. Ferdinand the VII of Spain died leaving his infant daughter Isabella as his heir with his fourth wife, Christina as Queen regent. Spain had been ruled by salic law (check here for details - but basically no female succession) and the most likely male heir, Juan Carlos took umbrage. 

Ranged on either side were absolutists, traditionalists and reactionaries of various stripes for the Carlists and liberals, centralisers and constitutionalists for the government. There was a strong current of regionalism running throughout the entire conflict, the Carlists were strongest on the periphery (particularly the Basque country, Aragon and Catalonia) and a great deal of opposition to the government forces seems to have been framed in terms of defending regional independence from a centralising middle along with the usual 19th century grab bag of tradition v. modernity, sacred v. secular, centre v. periphery and aristocracy v. bourgeosis. 

Militarily, the government forces held large parts of Spain and the Carlists sallied out of their regional bases on expeditions, but were never able to convert their tactical superiority into strategic victory. Both sides indulged in the sort of beastliness that 18th century wargamers tend to prefer to forget and the main loser was Johnny Spaniard. Cairns doesn't dwell on this, he doesn't really have space to do so, it's a short book after all, but he doesn't gloss over it either. 

Conrad Cairns is a fine writer with an admirable gift of clarity, I recognised his game from his previous "African Knights" book for Foundry and he manages to cover the basics here swiftly and well. There are probably better books on the First Carlist War (though I don't know of any), but this one manages to communicate the broad strokes in little more than a few pages and that is not to be sneezed at.

The book itself is a perfect bound softback from Perry Miniatures and costs £15 plus postage. As can be expected of any book that comes from the Perry's the layout and art are good. The book is broken into several sections, a brief introduction, followed by an outline of the war in the different regions and an assessment of each of the warring armies. This is followed by a section of uniforms, quite detailed in the case of the government forces and understandably woolly in the case of the insurgents. The book is rounded off with some tactical analysis and case studies examining some of the more interesting battles. I haven't quite finished it yet, but I feel confident enough to recommend it on what I've read so far.

You're paying about as much for an Osprey campaign title with a lot more uniform detail that one would expect. A book aimed solidly at wargamers and one that hits its mark.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Little Victories

An absolutely stuffed recycling bin

Well things are proceeding, but damned slow. I'm held up somewhat by a work injury which is nagging and painful  but not particularly debilitating*. Anything to do with the back is a pain, but as it is keeping me from the gym and on a succession of pills I've been a foul humour.  I'm just about keeping afloat in work, but it's hard to get any of the extras done as it's making typing difficult and bah, humbug, fiddlesticks - that's quite enough self pity right there. 

Frankly there are folks out there with bigger fish to fry.  I would suggest you go have look. 

My pal Donogh taught me something once that was worth knowing; you never clean up a room in one go. There is always a point at which you have to look at the chaos around you and say "Well, I'm going to pick this one thing up and put it in it's place. Then at least I will have that done." I think the lesson of that phrase is that even small amounts of progress are still progress and the persistence is a virtue worth cultivating. With that in mind, though I haven't been able to clean the floor of the War Room to start staining it, I've at least been able to clear most of the box room. 

Part of that has been a major campaign to downsize the plastic mountain - which mainly consists of cutting figures off sprues and chucking them in zip lock bags.  It is extremely unlikely that I will be buying plastic figures anytime soon, but if I do - they're coming of the sprue immediately. I've been at this for a couple of days and I'm only close to being finished. 

That said, it is a collection ten years in the making. 

A magic box full of soldiers

It's amazing actually, I had four boxes of figures on sprues or in boxes and I've opened everything up and bagged them.  The resulting figures fit in one box and are a lot easier to get at and handle. The recycling bin is almost full and there are still some chaps to cut and bag, but it has freed up a considerable amount of space. 

It's been fun in ways. I hadn't realised quite how many extra British and French infantry I'd collected. 

It's not much of an achievement, but at least it's something. I shall keep trying to pile these little victories on top of each other. 

And stop snarling at the cats when they jump on me when I'm trying to do my stretches. 

*For those of you with any interest in how I came by it - I would suggest watching this instructional video as it illustrates a very similar situation, albeit with less crashing, falling off things and manly whimpering. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Little Wars - Part two

This was our four or fifth battle and was another stand up fight for posession of the central town. Arranged on one side were Donogh, General T and General C. Opposing them were General G (note American Civil War beard), General L and General Russian Chap in a Cap.

This was a fast moving game as both sides made considerable use of the possibilities of concealed box movement to move troops quickly around the battlefield. The objectives were as before, points for casualties after twelve turns and a bonus for possession of the town. 

I'm going to have to give more thought to the use of the boxes as I think there needs to be more clarity about when one reveals troops and so forth. Both sides used these quite a bit and there was one moment where two lots of concealed cavalry managed to charge each other without revealing before hand.  Bit of a bug that and something I shall have to give further thought to. 

Team D, T & C seizing the town. General C definately one of the better sort of girls, did some fine shooting in this game. 

Donogh lining the fences with troops, this proved to be a key point in the battle as the other team were unable to dispute their poessesion of it.  This was mainly down to good shooting on Donogh's part and canny deployment of the artillery, who were mostly placed on the flanks.  This meant that when they were menaced by enemy troops, they were normally firing at least in semi-enfilade.

A pensive General T reviews the situation.
The battle was swinging like a door at this point with the central town being the pivot, Team Russian Chap in a Cap were beginning to pile pressure on the defenders of the town, but were coming under pressure themselves on the opposite flank.

General L sadly didn't uphold the distaff sides reputation for accurate gunnery.

Here she is trying to "shoot in" a cavalry charge supported by infantry on the defenders of the town.

Despite one lucky shot which manages to clip the rail fence they are hiding behind and cause a whole line of casualties - it is too little too late. 

The gallant mortar crew

The mortars were singularly unsuccessful in this game, not least because NERF guns are too powerful to fire in a parabolic arc with any certainty.  I'm thinking about some sort of flipper or catapult device to hurl the party poppers. 

These brave chaps detonated the magazine rather than lost their gun. 

General C & T having a conference after the successful attack on the enemy mortar. 

General G fires defiantly at the advancing enemy

But to no avail

This game was probably the most clear cut of the games we played over the weekend. I attribute that to Donogh and General C's good shooting, well sited guns and economy of force. They were far more aggressive about seizing the key terrain and holding it as well as concentrating their forces. 

I still need to think of a better way of handling howitzers though.