John Mitchell Card Buildings

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40 years on from their first design, I’m making one of the late John Mitchell’s  card buildings for 15mm figures as a small and ongoing tribute to John in my tabletop games.

mitchell cottages

 

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John Mitchell 15mm building sheets no 1 and 2 (JM1 and JM2?)

As mentioned in my previous tribute to the late John Mitchell,

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/08/19/simple-ecw-starter-rules-a-john-mitchell-tribute/

here are two of my surviving unmade John Mitchell buildings photographed so that fellow Peter Laing enthusiasts can build again and attack or defend their own John Mitchell tribute town.

What finer tribute can there be for a wargames designer’s products than for them to live on and give pleasure long after him?

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Scalpel –  check. Cutting board – check. Peter Laing Union rifleman to advise on scale – check. John Mitchell Building Sheet No. 2 Farmhouse – check. Ready to go!

My original John Mitchell card buildings from the 1980s have not survived.

Luckily two of my spare original sheets have survived. I scanned and printed these onto card to preserve the originals.

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Cutting out the farmhouse pieces.

40 years after they were designed in 1976 by John Mitchell, these buildings are back being made on my cutting board. They were first designed not long after Peter Laing launched his first 15mm figures in 1972.

I remember making this farmhouse before c. 1983 and had few difficulties.

The farmhouse chimney sits a little oddly, so needs an additional flap added along on its left side before you cut it out.

Additionally a larger fold-over flap at the top of the single house wall with door is needed to get a level roof; just align the new flap with the height of the other wall with a door.

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The finished basic Farmhouse model defended by my small advisor. I’ve marked up in red on the cut-out sheet overlaid on the original where flaps need to be altered or added in future.

John Mitchell made suggestions for adapting the basic card model as “base for experimentation e.g. Painting walls in poster colour, texturing walls and roofs in plastic filler and adding beams and window frames in balsa wood.

John mentioned his intention to work across “all periods of history” towards “Castles, and other large constructions” not just these slightly humbler 15mm dwellings.

Launching his buildings not long after Peter Laing launched his first 15mm figures in 1972, the only other building I came across mentioned (but sadly never bought) was the JM5 desert type dwelling mentioned in this Peter Laing advert in the early to mid 80s, a snip at 40p.

Not sure what the Barrack Room range was.

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Another Peter Laing  range I wish I had bought more of along with John Mitchell’s card JM5 desert buildings. Oh well,  there’s always the Airfix Desert outpost and Foreign legion fort.

So if JM1 was the Elizabethan house, JM2 the Farmhouse / Barn and JM5 the Desert building, does anyone know or can show what JM3, JM4 and JM6 onwards were?

I’d be interested to see more of them.

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Unpainted John Mitchell card farmhouse JM2 ready for action with garrison of Peter Laing Northern troops on my portable hex game board. (Photo / figures: Man of TIN.)

Enjoy building your John Mitchell tribute houses and may you have many happy hours with these as a pivotal battlefield feature to defend or attack in John Mitchell’s memory.

Posted by Mr MIN, Man of TIN, August 2016.

Simple ECW starter rules: a John Mitchell tribute

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Rules for Beginners 15mm English Civil War (collection: Man of TIN)

As a tribute to the late John Mitchell, one of figure designer Peter Laing’s colleagues in early 15mm wargames products, who died in June 2016, I am posting my battered copy of what I believe are John’s typed English Civil War 15mm starter rules (with my childhood pencil additions).

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Send no cash or stamps for samples as Peter Laing has now retired! 1982 Miniature Wargames no. 1 (Figures: Man of TIN)

As far as I can remember, these rules were bought from Peter Laing c. 1982/3 and are focussed around the figures and artillery (A501 Culverin, A502 Saker) in Peter’s English Civil War ranges.

As far as I know, the rules have probably not been sold for many years since Peter Laing and John Mitchell retired. They are posted here in tribute.

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Authentically foxed, blotched and aged paper from these (JohnMitchell?) 15mm starter rules reprod(uced)and sold via Peter Laing?

John Mitchell sold starter sets of 15mm (hand painted?) Wargames armies.

The advert here does not mention ECW specifically …

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John Mitchell starter 15mm sets advert (magazine and date unknown, c. 1982-3)

… but in this advert from Military Modelling October 1983 it gives more details:

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Send no SAEs for details, as sadly John Mitchell has passed away but how many wargames enthusiasts started with one of these sets?

Hmm, If you could whizz back to 1983 in my Man of TIN Tiny Tin Time Machine, which starter army or armies would you choose?

Did you get figures for both sides, so both Roundhead and Cavalier?

I presume many of the starter set figures came from the Peter Laing range. The historic periods covered in the adverts match Peter Laing’s extensive 15mm catalogue well, including his trademark Marlburian figures, the unusual Crimean and Franco-Prussian War ranges and the smaller, almost half to a third of the cost for the WW2 starter set as Peter Laing only made a small WW2 infantry range which we have featured on another blogpost. The costs varied quite a lot in price!

If anyone was lucky enough to be bought or to buy one of these 15mm Starter Armies, I  would love to hear more about them in detail. Did they spark a lifelong gaming interest? Did it lead to a wider collection of Peter Laing figures? I hope that you liked them, although Peter Laing figures have both admirers and their detractors on many gaming and figure forums.

As a young gamer I could never afford a hand painted starter army – I hand painted my own choice of Peter Laing figures instead. I would have counted how many unpainted Peter Laing castings  at  6p or 7p per foot figure I could have bought for the cost of a starter army.

These rules were an interesting specific set for the ECW to supplement the simple rules for other periods available in early Donald Featherstone books. They served me well for my first few teenage years of English Civil War gaming.

The supportive business relationship between John Mitchell and Peter  Laing is hinted at often throughout Peter Laing’s catalogue:

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More about John Mitchell’s 15mm card buildings and building sheets in my next Peter Laing related blogpost.

When Peter Laing retired, John Mitchell bought the Laing figure moulds whose whereabouts are currently unknown – probably.

Hopefully John Mitchell’s hand painted 15mm starter armies were the introduction to the scale and our hobby for many of today’s gamers.

John Mitchell, remembered wherever and whenever his hand-painted starter sets  of tiny 15mm metal soldiers fight for his card buildings, by  happy gamers across the world enjoy “a most satisfactory infantry action game.”

Tribute posted by Mr MIN, Man of TIN, 19 August 2016.