A sort of historic day, albeit very personal, today. I'll explain. Well over 40 years ago, the childhood me discovered wargaming, and subsequently spent all my 'holiday money' one summer on a copy of Charles Grant's 'The War Game', from a little bookshop in Looe, Cornwall. Thoroughly enthused by the world of the VFS and Duchy of Lorraine, I dreamed of my own imagi-nations, while also becoming aware that 'proper' wargaming figures were available, beyond the Airfix plastics in the local toy shops. Further pocket-money was duly saved up, and a mail order placed with Miniature Figurines in far-off Southampton - for a whole 'Grant-size regiment' of about 50 figures. These would have cost about £5 to £6, and may have represented most of the 'defence budget' at the time. Hence an obvious flaw in my childhood strategy is apparent - how did I imagine I would ever get a whole army?
Anyway, it was a Prussian Line Musketeer regiment, and in my enthusiasm for fictional nations, and having no idea how to paint such figures, I haphazardly slapped on some mid-blue ( rather Bavarian-looking, but I think it was 'Prussian Dragoon Blue' ) Humbrol enamel paint. Done! They were able to take the field, the only metal figures among a rainbow collective of mixed Airfix Napoleonics and AWI, all painted in equally slapdash and equally non-historical colours. Of course they were terrible paint-jobs, but the games were fun, and at least the advent of WRG 1685-1845 rules eventually allowed smaller and more economical units! And then my enthusiams moved on, and the imagi-nations ( and really, wargaming as a whole ) were forgotten, and the lone 'Grant regiment' sat in a box, in my parents' loft, equally forgotten and neglected.
|1970s paint job ( MC12, Prussian Dragoon Blue? ) |
These unloved figures probably spent over 30 years in more than one loft - at least my folks were kind enough not to throw them out when moving house - until finally, and by chance largely thanks to another 'imagi-nations' enthusiast, Henry Hyde and his 'Battlegames' magazine, my interest was revived. The opportunity duly appeared to buy some of the late Eric Knowles' Seven Years War figures, and that led to the blog you are reading now. And of course, now I have the chance to use my long-neglected Prussians. So, a year or so ago they went into a bath of 'Clean Spirit', and away went the Humbrol enamel.
|back to bare metal - more or less|
Finally, I'm very pleased to say that yesterday afternoon I sat in my partner's sunny garden, with 16 of these under-employed veterans, and finally bestowed on them their rightful reward - smart new coats of ( acrylic ) Prussian Blue.
|Early days yet, but it's a step 'vorwarts!' |
Now I'm the first to admit my painting skills have not necessarily improved in the intervening decades (and my eyesight, certainly not!) , but I think I have a bit more patience, better information and better equipment. I will certainly be taking more care, and I hope for a decent enough result, which will allow them to finally take their place on the battlefield once again, as the Prussian 9th Line Infantry ('Jung Kleist' ), and try conclusions with the dastardly Austrians. It feels somehow very 'right' to do this, and there's a strong sense of connection with my younger self across the decades, and of course an awareness of the passing of time - where did those decades go? If the little metal men have feelings, I hope I am making amends for all those lost years, and I hope to give them back their pride. Let's hope they fight like good Prussians! I hope to show these again once they are finished - meanwhile, keep well, and safe, everyone.