Thursday, 10 September 2020

Second Posting in a Week - 28mm Normal Crossbowmen and Menacing Ruffians

So after moaning n Monday that I had taken ages to complete the last batch of figures, I had a 'window of opportunity' to paint-up two batches of eight figures. First batch was of Norman Crossbowmen, the second being Gripping Beast's new 'Hexenjager' models that will be used as some very creepy and scary Border Ruffians.

As usual, I sourced the Norman figures from eBay and I believe that they are Conquest Games figures but not 100% certain!

Right Hand view of four Crossbowmen firing

There are two basic poses for the firing figures, one in a padded leather or cloth jacket and one in woollen tunics. Both figures come with separate crossbows, both are nicely sculpted and very easy to paint.

Left Hand view of four Crossbowmen firing

Again, there are two basic poses for the re-loading figures, and again one in a padded leather or cloth jacket and one in woollen tunics. One figures come with separate crossbow, the other where the figure is using his foot to stretch the crossbow string, has the weapon moulded onto the figure. Again both are nicely sculpted.

Left Hand view of four Crossbowmen re-loading

Right Hand view of four Crossbowmen re-loading

Figures were undercoated in an off-white and then painted with acrylic paints, varnished using Army Painter Dark Tone Dip and then coated with Widsor and Newton Matt Varnish.

The next batch were Gripping Beast's 'Hexenjager' band which will be used as Border Rievers working for one or other of the main flavours of church to be found in the region during this period!

As can be seen, these little chaps have something of the night about them and each is sporting a fiery torch to cleanse the non-conformists.

A very scary band of Border Ruffians

And another view...

Two of the Gripping Beast characters, one wearing a mask typical of the time,
the other sporting the Bishop's Purple Sash.

Two more figures, on the left a hairy Ruffian in skillet helmet,
on the right an older guy in leather cap.

Another two characters, ion the left wearing a buff leather jerkin,
on the right wearing some old chainmail.

The final two guys, both with pistols tucked into their Purple sashes,
each wearing breastplates and helmets

Painting was addressed in the same way as the Normans above, the flames in the torches was layered white, yellow, orange, red to give a flame effect, a wash of light brown ink and a light dry brush of black to suggest soot and smoke...

That's all for now, the Campaign beckons again so it may be a few weeks before I get time to paint again!

Monday, 7 September 2020

Border Artillery and more...

Its been a while since my last Border Ruffian Post, these guys have been floundering on my workbench for a couple of weeks, waiting for me to have the time to complete them.

So what we have in this post are some Foundry Elizabethans I sourced from eBay plus a gun, crew and various foot men I got from Dixon Miniatures to see how compatible they would be both in dress and style as well as size and sculpt with the Foundry guys.

First up is the gun and crew from Dixon Miniatures, from their Flodden Range. Flodden is a little early for the peak Border Reiver era as it was fought in 1513 and as such was fought during the reign of Henry VIII, albeit he was off gallivanting in France at the time.

Light Field Gun with two crew

Business end of the gun!

And a final view of the other side of the gun and crew.

I left the gun carriage as natural wood, with all metal work painted black to avoid rust. The model was washed with a watered down Army Painter Dark Tone wash.

The crew were two very nice models based, separately from the gun but able to be placed upon the gun's base during games. Dress wise, I think these will get away with being placed in the later Elizabethan period, although their leggings might 'age' them somewhat.

Two halbardiers, ready to receive attacking horse.

The two halbardiers, were again nice figures to paint, one with thigh high leather riding boots and a steel helmet whilst the other is bareheaded and in a quilted jacket and knee length boots. Both these figures can be used OK for Elizabethan period, the helmet style is somewhat early but can be argued to be a family hand me down for the later period

Three pike men again ready to receive...

The three pike men are from lower stock, each wearing a nicely moulded leather jack, two with steel helmets and one with a soft cap. Again I think it is the leggings that might be a little suspect in the Elizabethan period but I will take other's views on this.

Final Dixon's figures - two Highlanders

And here are two Dixon Highlanders who are dressed and styled in a manner compatible with other figures of the Elizabethan period.

The big (forgive the pun!) issue with all the Dixon's figures is that whilst fantastic figures in themselves they are sculpted in a very different style to the rest of the collection. Although retailed as 28mm figures, they are, in my opinion re-badged 25mm figures, and are noticeably shorter than other Borderers in my collection.

That and the difference in anatomical style makes the two sets of figures very different, Dixon's figures are much more anatomically proportioned, whilst the Foundry figures are much more chunky. See the picture below...

Left a Foundry Calivar Man, Right Dixon's Highlander

... That said, some figures will fit in better than others.

Two Calivar men

So the two Calivar men were both from Foundry, one from the Garrison range and one from the Sea Dogs range, both painted up nicely.

Four Halbardiers from Foundry and a Warlords Games plastic Pike Bill men 

A selection of Halbadiers plus a Warlords Plastic pike man that has already been converted (since this photo) to a bill man. The Warlords Games figure has a Gripping Beast head from an the Dark Ages archers box added to the basic figure to give it a less Civil War look.

Halibardier & Drummer from Foundry

And finally (really this time) a Sea Dog with a Halibard and a Drummer, both nice foundry models.

Next up on the painting Workbench 7 x Norman Crossbow men and 8 x Fanatics for the Borders - nocturnal raiders armed with the cross, flame and an inappropriate amount of religious bigotry!

Friday, 14 August 2020

Even More Border Ruffians - Irish Hired Help #4 and new Reivers

Well I have worked a small window in to my free time to complete some figures I had been on my workbench and I also found time to start work on some more additions to the Elizabethan Collections...

So the bulk of the figures completed this week are actually reworks of old models I purchased from Steve Cast many years ago, you saw some of these previously and you may remember that they were originally part of my Wars of the Rose collection.

More reworks of Steve's old figures

Anyway, these have now been rebased and repainted, converting them from consolidated bases of five figures into individual figures on 20mm disk bases.

I have additionally ensured that the base colours on the figures all tie into the rest of my Elizabethan Irish collection - in essence the yellowing cloth colour is being standardised to the old Citadel 'Bubonic Brown' tone.

Two right hand figures have had highlights to their coloured tunics,
all have had their base colour standardised

I've mixed in varied hair colours and added some detail to some of the tunics that the little fellas are wearing as illustrations I have seen show they were highlighted in white.

Individual bases and more variation to hair colours, two figures to the left are Gallowglass

One of the figures is a standard bearer and I have to make up a flag for him. Another of the players is a mounted leader.

Mounted Irish Leader

So, along with the original figures sourced from Steve are another two Wargames Atlantic plastic Irishmen, these have been made pretty much out of the box. One armed with a shield and Shillelagh (wooden club) whilst the other has a shield, sword, spear and helmet. the helmet is from the Gripping Beast Saxons Box - he's obviously a wealthier warrior! 

Wargames Atlantic plastic figures

Finally is a preview of the next batch of figures I'll be working on, 50/50 Wargames Foundry and Dixons.

The Wargames foundry figures are from their Elizabethan and Sea Dog ranges, previously discussed here - nice characterful, chunky figures.

The Foundry figures purchased from eBay

The Dixons figures are from their '28mm Flodden' range, very nice figures indeed, however, I suspect these are a re-branding of their old 28mm range and as such are smaller than most others in the collection. 

They are more comparable with the Perry's figures I have for the Irish than the Wargames Foundry figures.

Dixons figures, Pikemen, Billhooks and a Highlander, fabulously detailed
and proportioned figures but 25mm, not 28mm in my opinion.

That said as there are only a few they may well fit in OK when fully painted.

The figures are Scots Infantry from Flodden, plus a gun and crew. Every Reiver family should have have a 'Little Friend' to say hello to, a la Al Pachino in Scarface!

Say Hello Boys!

Wednesday, 12 August 2020

15th Birthday!


A belated Happy Birthday to our Club Website! It opened for business on 31st May 2005 and had its first posts on 15th July 2005 - a short piece on the Dakota Wars by Mike W. and a series of three articles by Steve entitled Five and Twenty Ponies which neatly bookends the latest submission by Steve on a couple of Smuggling Games played a couple weeks ago! Nothing changes in all that time...

So what have been the most popular posts in all that time I hear you asking, well here's the Top Ten List.

All Time Most Popular Posts: As of 12/08/20

So there it is, hopefully another 15 Years of wackiness for the club, once we all get through this Covid Patch we'll be sure to have a lot of games stored up to play. Thanks for everyone's support - as can be seen Steve & Dave are by far the most popular contributors (Unless they keep reading their own contributions over and over again to push their scores up!)

So what was my Favourite Article in the last 15 years - well it's hard to say, so I'll cheat and say the Off the Workbench series of posts. Simply because it documents my love for painting figures and and the slow (possibly glacial) rise in popularity in Big Boys Toys within the club!

Tuesday, 4 August 2020

Smugglers Game

By Steve Cast

Mike “Knees” Newman and I had a couple of great games on Friday. What with the weather being hotter than my wife’s breathe after catching me looking at Prawn on the intraweb, we both struggled in the heat. We burnt our fingers on the figures so badly that they resembled miniature versions of David Carradines arms from Kung Fu, and every so often one of the card houses would burst into flame or a resin building would melt into a pulsating hissing blob. 

However, we worked our way around these minor irritations and after the first game abruptly came to an end after only an hour and a half we played a second game this time changing sides but using the same figures. 

Now, guess who won twice! Well, I’ll give you a clue. Mike was the sheep dog and I was the Coyote

I was out foxed by a sheep fox!

Strangely for Mike, he turned up in trousers and trainers. I thought this can’t be right, Mike never wears arctic clothing not even sub zero temperatures. 

He’s famed throughout the wargaming world for his manly knees and hollow legs, there must be something wrong with the poor fella, he must have got a touch of the old sun. 

So, there I was standing in me back Garden not knowing how to broach such a delicate subject when all of a sudden it came to me: 

“Mike, can you see those mountains over yonder dear boy?” 

“Mountains” says Mike “Are you mad?”

“Well yes, remember who talking to. But forget all that and have a glug of my last stand Brandy....can you see them now?” 

“By gad sir so I can”

 “Welcome back to the known world old fella. Now about these trousers....” 

It turned out that Mike had caught the dreaded red knees syndrome from drinking in too much sun. You see, I knew it was something to do with the sun. 

It can do terrible things to a man can the sun, especially when he exposes his knees for too long, I should know, I’m a man with knees of me own. 

Had it been anyone else I would have said that they were carpet burns but as it was Mike I took his story as gospel in that he’d been shuffling his way from Horsham to Winchester for the past week on the Pilgrims way only to find that he’d arrived a week too late for mass due to a typo in the illuminated itinerary and as such had missed out on the wine and biscuits. 

As a penance he then shuffled all the way back to Horsham after which he purged his sins by drinking a whole case of wine and eating a cheesy biscuit, just to make sure that he had some solids in his stomach. 

Now then, all joking aside as you know it was a really hot day on Friday but we did have ourselves a good couple of games despite the heat. Mike started the first game as the smugglers. I’d sent him all the info during the week so he’d had plenty of time to put his smuggling team together. 

We did start by using the markers but these just blew away in the wind so we were forced to put the figures on the table which did take the edge off the game because you could see what everything was. 

However, being the gentlemen that we are we got around this problem by mutual consent and used “Blank” figures in place of blank markers so there was still a bit of uncertainty. 

The map was taken from a part of Crawley as it looked in 1874 and is not too far from where I work. Crawley was quite notorious for smuggling being on the London to Brighton road. Where it says “Farm” (Top middle square) it is in fact Jordan’s farm which is now the Toby Carvery. The road going towards ‘B’ leads to County Oak and where I work is just to the right of ‘B’.

It was a moon lit night and visibility was 1 Dav x 5”. On the first game Mikes route was from B to C going from B across fields 18 and 21. 

His team consisted of 2 good leaders, 1 average leader, 8 smugglers armed with muskets, 8 armed with iron tipped staves and 2 figures leading 4 pack mules. 

My team consisted of 10 militia with a good officer and an NCO plus 10 Dragoons with a good officer and an NCO. 

I had the dragoons hidden in the farm and most of the Militia hidden in the houses to the left of the farm and 5 of them hidden along the left hand field boundary in the field numbered 18. 

I managed to spot some of Mikes figures from the farm just as he came on table at B but I wasn’t prepared to spring my trap just at that moment, but perhaps I should have as you will see later. Mike managed to make it to field 18 at which point we both engaged in a fire fight. 

As the sound of the shots would have been heard across the table this allowed me to roll my activation dice for the rest of my figures which unfortunately wasn’t very good. Being out gunned, one of my militia was killed, two bolted leaving the other two to be beaten up and captured. 

Of the two that ran, the NCO recovered his composure and took shelter behind a tree in field 21 whilst his “Mate” continued to run off table. 

The NCO did however put up a good fight despite his cowardly performance earlier but it wasn’t enough to hold back Mikes Smugglers and allow the rest of my militia to come into action. 

As for the Dragoons they didn’t make it either thus allowing Mikes team to get off table at point C.

In game two we swapped figures and I thought I’d be clever which was probably my undoing. Mike had his dragoons hidden in the farm very much like I did and his Militia were hidden in the houses and in the small enclosure numbered 12. 

My plan was to go from A to B by sending a group of smugglers (Team A) along the houses to find out what was there and deal with what they found, whilst sending the rest of the smugglers and the pack mules along the road. 

Things went splendidly for team A, discovering a fair amount of Mikes militia but on trying to sneak into the houses and duff them up they found that the doors had been locked (Dice roll of a 4, 5 or 6) so all they could do was to skulk behind the hedges and wait for things to develop.

Meanwhile team B was working its way along the road but as word had reached it about the discovery of the militia in the houses it took the left turn and worked its way down road C in an attempt to cross field 21. 

Sending scouts out towards enclosure 12 and not finding any enemy I became a bit too confident and on one turn I forgot to do any observation and moved a smuggler towards the enclosure only for it to be shot at with the muzzle of a militia musket rammed up its nostril. 

This allowed Mike to roll his activation dice for his Dragoons and the rest of his militia. Finding a hornets’ nest of Militia in the enclosure and having sent half of my armed smugglers with team A I was badly outgunned and was getting the worst of it. 

In the mean time team A had managed to break into one of the houses and was having it out with the 4 militia that they found in there. The rest of Mike’s militia came out of the houses marked 352 on the map and were working their way down road C. 

I in the mean time was trying to regroup team B and fight my way into field number 18 but what with the Dragoons coming up fast from the farm and Mikes Militia breathing down my neck, it was a fair cop and the gallows awaited!

Now as far as Friday games are concerned, at the moment the factory is still working a 4 day shift so this leaves Fridays free for me so if any of you want to put a day time game on whilst the weather is still good we could always start at say 12pm. The person who is putting the game on could come round at 10am and set up. 

However the game could only last the day so they’d have to be small enough so that we get a conclusion after say 5 hours allowing an hour to pack up. Anyway the offer is there if you want it.

Sunday, 2 August 2020

XX Corps Burns Nights – January 1865

By Hardy Kenwright

The first Burns Night celebration was held by Robert Burns’ friends on 21st July 1801, the 5th anniversary of his death. It then became a regular event on the anniversary of his birth, originally thought to be 29th January. In 1803, the Ayr parish records were found to show that his real birthday had been on 25th January.

M.G. Paul De Krackere decided that XX Corps would hold three Burns Night Celebrations on 25th, 26th and 27th January, once for each Division. This ensured that each Division in turn would be excused fatigues for a night, cover by their colleagues in the other Divisions.

Highlanders escort the Haggis

International singing sensation Barbara Cerville had been invited to visit the Corps and attend all three events. I was pleased to be invited to attend each evening too.

Piping in:

Bandsmen Tom Brone and Rusty Horne demonstrated their piping skills to greet the guests.

 Host's welcoming speech

The Division Commanders, acting as host at their own Division’s Dinner, welcomed the guests and said the Selkirk Grace.

Some hae meat an canna eat,

And some wad eat that want it;

But we hae meat, and we can eat,

And sae the Lord be thankit.


The Haggis Guards


(Entrance of the Haggis)

Haggis served wi tatties an neeps (with potatoes and swede)

Tipsy Laird (whisky trifle

Oatcakes and cheeses

All washed down with the "water of life" (uisge beatha), Scotch whisky.

Entrance of the Haggis:

Everyone stood as Col. Róng Wài brought in the Haggis to the top table, being piped in by Tom Brone. That night’s host then recited the Address to a Haggis.


Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o' the puddin-race!
Aboon them a' ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o' a grace
As lang's my airm.

(fa = befall, sonsie = jolly/cheerful)

(aboon = above, a' = all)
(painch = paunch/stomach, thairm = intestine)
(wordy = worthy)

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o' need,
While thro' your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.

(hurdies = buttocks)

His knife see rustic Labour dicht,
An' cut you up wi' ready slicht,
Trenching your gushing entrails bricht,
Like ony ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sicht,
Warm-reekin, rich!

(dicht = wipe, here with the idea of sharpening)
(slicht = skill)
(reekin = steaming)

Then, horn for horn, they stretch an' strive:
Deil tak the hindmaist! on they drive,
Till a' their weel-swall'd kytes belyve,
Are bent like drums;
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
"Bethankit" hums.

(deil = devil)
(swall'd = swollen, kytes = bellies, belyve = soon)
(bent like = tight as)
(auld Guidman = the man of the house, rive = tear, i.e. burst)

Is there that o're his French ragout
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi' perfect scunner,
Looks down wi' sneering, scornfu' view
On sic a dinner?

(olio = stew, from Spanish olla/stew pot, staw = make sick)

(scunner = disgust)

Poor devil! see him ower his trash,
As feckless as a wither'd rash,
His spindle shank, a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit;
Thro' bloody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!

(nieve = fist, nit = nut, i.e. tiny)

But mark the Rustic, haggis fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread.
Clap in his wallie nieve a blade,
He'll mak it whistle;
An' legs an' arms, an' heads will sned,
Like taps o' thristle.

(wallie = mighty, nieve = fist)

(sned = cut off)
(thristle = thistle)

Ye Pow'rs wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o' fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinkin ware
That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu' prayer,
Gie her a haggis!

(skinkin ware = watery soup)
(jaups = slops about, luggies = two-handled continental bowls)

 A haggis, cut open

At the line His knife see rustic Labour dicht, the host drew and sharpened a knife. At the line An' cut you up wi' ready slicht, he plunged it into the haggis cutting it open from end to end.

At the end of the poem, a whisky toast was proposed to the haggis.

Haggis Chef

The hot gave a speech remembering an aspect of Burns's life or poetry. A toast to the Immortal Memory of Robert Burns then followed.

Address to the Lassies:

Given by the senior Brigade Commander.

Reply to the Laddies:

Given by guest Barbara Cerville.


Paul De Krackere gave a vote of thanks then all joined in to sing Auld Lang Syne to bring the evening to an end, although the Whisky continued to flow for a good while after.