As it is fast approaching Christmas, there is lots of wrapping and dispatching of parcels in our house at the moment.
I noticed on this Sainsbury’s brown wrapping paper with festive shiny red dots that they have a handy small square grid marked on the back to help with tidy cutting and wrapping.
Like most gamers, my brain instantly thought of gaming applications. I quickly wrapped a spare piece around the backing part of a redundant picture frame – one instant portable game board.
I had put this wooden picture frame aside for future game board use, when its glass broke long ago (Reuse Reduce Recycle etc.) It still has the string on the back, so I can hang this board out of the way somewhere on a spare wall when not in use.
Marking out grid lines on the game board can be tedious and intrusive. These wrapping paper lines are very faint and instant!
With two sides to the frame backing board it would be possible to use either side for game play or more tediously reverse the frame backing board each time. Undoing of the tiny metal clips is fiddly and not a long term solution.
Changing the hanging strap arrangement (D-rings to the side, string with some kind of clips?) would help in making a two sided game board more flexible.
This would allow the same board to be easily used on either of the two sides for two different grid sizes, different terrain habitats or flexible grid sizes.
If I decide to keep this paper grid long term, I will think about pasting the paper down as wrinkle free as possible (possibly with spray mount?) and a coat of varnish to probably help keep it neat. I shall test out on a spare scrap of this wrapping paper to see if some light watercolour terrain patches cause any wrinkling.
I tried the hex board out with some smaller vintage 15mm Peter Laing figures, smaller figures suit the hexes even better.
Obviously such a square grid could feature small size squares or larger squares made of four small size squares.
When I get tired of this grid paper, I can paint over what was before and mark up a fresh new grid board for quick skirmish games.
This gives me a variety of sized hex and square portable game boards, without any carpentry at all! You can see more of them on various of my blog posts including:
Both Peter at Grid Based Wargaming and Bob Cordery sometimes use 15mm Peter Laing figures on their grid based portable games, making them even more worth looking at!
As for Christmas, I have some Peter Laing 15mm figures to look forward to, already wrapped and packed away, embargoed throughout the last few months until Christmas Day. Something to share on the blog in the New Gaming Year of 2018.
Happy wrapping. Happy gaming to all my blog readers.
Occasionally very tiny mixed groups of Peter Laing figures turn up on auction sites or second hand figure sales websites. Sometimes the figures are identified, sometimes not.
I recently bought a group of 18 mixed foot and 2 cavalry – but only recognise a few of them.
Maybe the Google plus Peter Laing group or my blog readers could help me identify these figures?
Some of the native figures may be Mahdists or Dervishes with spear and sword ? Or are they Boxers? These two groups were interchangeable in the Peter Laing range, even appearing as “Suitable Items from Other Ranges” within the same range where Peter suggested F628 Dervish with Spear could be Boxer with Spear.
Ross MacFarlane suggested in the comments: “The others look like Mahdists to me. F612, F628, F629. Your pigtail is probably the tail of the turban which was often left to dangle down the neck. The armoured cavalry looks like M608 Armoured Dervish cavalry. Thanks, Ross!
Ian Dury wrote: Just to confirm Ross’ views on the Colonial and Crimean figures – they are indeed:
F612 (Mahdist) Jihadia rifeleman
F628 Dervish with spear
F628 Dervish with raised sword
M608 Dervish Armoured Horseman
A806 Russian Gunner, sponge
A807 Russian Gunner, Portfire
A few have some paintwork, suggestive of the colourful patches of Dervishes.
The few details on these tiny 15mm figures made them very versatile for paint conversions to other periods or armies.
A few I already recognise like the Zulu, probably F620 advancing raised assegai or F626 Zulu running.
Ross MacFarlane thinks: “The armoured cavalry looks like M608 Armoured Dervish cavalry” which makes more sense in the colonial company it is keeping. I thought at first it might be weird Mounted Norman …
Any help identifying this small random group of Peter Laing figures is much appreciated.
B.P.S. Blog Post Script – Prussian or Russian?
In his comment, Ross thinks that the infantryman has the look of a Crimean Russian infantryman, rather than Prussian Landwehr. This is a sensible suggestion with it being lumped in with stray Crimean Russian gunners.
This would probably make it F824 Russian infantry advancing (cap)?
Hopefully someone with Waterloo Prussian or Crimean Russian Peter Laing figures might have thoughts on this.
Ian Dury’s fine collection of Peter Laing Crimean Russian figures in caps advancing are shown here on Bob Cordery’s blog
Just as the Russian gunner figures look like they have long coats and /or baggy breeches, these figures in Ian’s photographs look to have slightly longer baggy coats. We are only talking a difference of up to a millimetre!
The new unpainted figure is so close to one that I bought from Peter Laing as samples of his Waterloo range in the 1980s that I think the figures, if not the same, are pretty much interchangeable – a bonus really for building up an army!
I photographed my Waterloo Prussians alongside for comparison.
The full extent of my Prussian intervention in a Waterloo setting is currently shown here – tremble, tiny Napoleon!
I am still slightly swayed towards the figure being Napoleonic Prussian rather than Crimean Russian. However it is close enough to the Crimean Russian figures in Ian Dury’s photographs that, thanks to Ross’s suggestion, I could easily use these Landwehr type figures for Crimean War scenarios.
Peter Laing 15mm collector and enthusiast Ian Dury has set up a Google+ Community page / forum to celebrate these early and charming 15mm figures, which are sadly no longer available.
As Ian Dury wrote: “I hope you will all join and contribute – pictures, notifications of e-Bay sales, personal sales and wants are all welcome.”
“If you know of anyone else who would be interested – please let them know!”
Ian also hopefully mentioned: “For those of you who aren’t already Google+ users, you will probably need to register for a (free) GMail account to make full use of the community. You can link this to an existing e-mail account if you use another provider – but you may need to change your G-Mail settings to do so.”
I’m already signed up with a Gmail account and it was easy enough.
This Google community looks to be great fun. Already featured are Peter Laing blogs including Man Of TIN, lots of figure photos and a full Peter Laing catalogue.
A lucky find on a collectibles or junk stall was a £10 teabag box full of a small jumbled collection of miniature ceramic French houses produced by Gault.
I had never heard of ‘Gault Made in France’ but I saw the games potential of this ‘bric a brac’ straight away. They looked close to 15mm scale.
About Gault France ceramic houses
“The magic of Gault houses was born from the combination of the talents of 2 brothers: Jean-Pierre, architect, painter and sculptor, and Dominique, designer and businessman”. http://gault-france.com/gault-history/
Sadly ceramics production of this attractive little French houses by Gault ceased for a while in 2001 and finally by 2010, due to the expensive production costs of these individually made and painted houses, after about thirty years of production.
Judging by the long individual making process, I am not surprised that they had high production costs:
“Two months were needed to produce a house through 14 manufacturing stages. Sculpting of roofs, shaping and modelling of balconies, pavements…Natural drying, firing at 700°C; rinse-bath with oxides, painting, patina, dust removal, cold enameling at 1000°C and shop-fronts miniaturising. All those stages were necessary to produce a piece finally worthy of seal of Gault. The world of Gault: the charm weaves its spell.” http://gault-france.com
The Gault France site (above) by Stephane is the only English language site I can find about them. It is well worth a visit, a real labour of love. It features pages of a rare Japanese book about them, showing the commonest Provence range that my houses belong to and many more ranges on his website http://gault-france.com/
“J Carlton houses are made of resin instead of ceramic and are generally a bit smaller than the Gault Original (ceramic) houses. A key difference between the ceramic and resin houses is that the ceramic houses were entirely made by hand; each one was unique as the window styles, doors, business name and other aspects of the pieces was different on each one of the same model. The resin houses are made from highly precise molds and therefore each one of the same model are identical.” Taken from http://gault-france.com website
The resin replacements of the Gault houses still produced and available on the ‘J. Carlton’ website. These are resin moulded, much brighter and, to me, have far less character or texture than the ceramic Gault originals. Like old metal figures, the ceramics also have a satisfying weighty heft about them.
Dominique Gault personally created the design for the comic little metal figurines, vehicles, and town furniture working with a French sculptor or artist Jean-Pierre Lobel. They do not feature on Lobel’s Art Miniature range, produced surprisingly in the former French colony of Madagascar since 1995. www.figurine-artminiature.com
However the Gault / Lobel figures are still produced in metal, hand painted and sold through J Carlton or second hand online sites. I am not too sure of their size, online auction sites suggest about 1 inch high, but they turn these model French towns into something charming and comic, somewhere between Trumpton and Tintin. http://pxlentreprise.fr/jcarlton/categorie-produit/figurines/
This motley collection of Gault houses suggest lots of gaming possibilities, especially in 15mm (they would probably work with 10mm too). You can mix and move the smaller side buildings around, much as you can in the traditional wooden German toy villages beloved of gamers, to create new combinations of buildings.
It is difficult to resist moving these little houses and outhouses around to make new village or townscapes.
Like all new gaming finds, these houses rearranged into a square, a small hamlet or long street suggest gaming scenarios or just atmospheric scene setting.
With the bell tower, it could a Mexican, Spanish Colonial or southern states desert village for some of my 15mm Peter Laing Boers as cowboys or bandits with other American Civil War figures.
With some Peter Laing 15mm Romans stashed away for Christmas to look forward to as opponents to my Peter Laing Ancient troops, I can see these working as simple Roman buildings. Instead of the maker’s mark of Gault written on the back wall, I may find the words Romans Go Home written instead!
I have tried the smaller Gault buildings out on 4.5 cm Heroscape hexes and they work quite well in a token ‘toy town’ kind of way.
However they do well enough on a felt gaming cloth.
Behind the scenes and underneath Gault Houses
For those who know such things, here are the maker’s marks or catalogue numbers of the pieces I picked up.
Looking on online sites, now that these Gault ceramics are out of production, even the smallest outhouse seems to be selling for at least twice the price I paid for the whole cardboard tea box of jumbled houses. A lucky day.
So I can now say that I own a property in Provence or two … albeit in miniature.
This is partly because the game board was a “take it as found”, scrounged before skipped notice board, rather than a purchased or commercial notice board as I think Bob Cordery used. Bob may have put his board dimensions on his post.
Recent Heroscape hex-periment blogposts
I have been intrigued and quite curious to see how Bob Cordery will incorporate these into his Portable Wargame set up. I enjoyed his stylish and smart coastlines, well worth looking at these on his blog:
The Heroscape hexes are versatile enough that you can flock them, paint them or plant a tree on them.
The Heroscapers gallery section on terrain https://www.heroscapers.com/ has some interesting ways of building walls, hedges, fences and walls of buildings around the outside of the hexes so that you can place figures inside. Something to try perhaps for a French-Indian War or Civil War stockade fort section.
Bob Cordery measures Heroscape hex tiles at about 4cm across, but add the locking bits and I reckon that this is almost 4.5cms.
So the ‘seven hex’ almost snowflake pattern plates in my recent post about Peter Laing and Base Overhang are about 13.5 / 14 cms across at their three hex widest point on any side.
Heroscape Hexes also come in ones, twos, threes, snowflake sevens and 24s giving a variety of possible 3D or 2D shaped terrains.
The eight large plates of 24 Hexes (which that fit onto my board to make the 192 hexes of Joy) are the standard Heroscape large base plate. These are about 6 Hexes wide or for each plate 24 cms at widest, 6 hexes long about 27 cms longest edge. 2 of these combine however to make a rough rectangle of only 38 cms long, as seen making up a quarter each of my hex base board (above top).
My big 192 Hex board (an old possibly handmade but disused noticeboard) is around 79/80 cms long and 54/55 cms wide. This includes 2cms of trim at each end – effectively the trim and painted wooden gap round the edge are about 3-4cms wide, almost one hex wide.
My smaller portable game boards are two wooden box lids of 54 Hexes each. These are used as bought / found, being no carpenter, bring 40cms long, 30 cms wide including 1cm lip (3cms deep) around each side. There is some wasted space around the hex edge to box lip which I infill with AstroTurf strips for rough grass scrub. Together they make up a board of 108 Hexes, good for small fast games.
Together they would make up 300 Hexes of Joy!
I have yet to put all three hex boards alongside each other, mainly as I don’t yet have a table quite big enough. I have no games room so the smaller boards have the advantage that they can be lifted off a table and put on a shelf if things like meals claim the table. The bigger board after gaming when stripped back to the 8 interlocking big hex base plates can be stowed away easily enough or even hung on the wall as modern art.
Heroscape tiles by Hasbro / MB are currently long out of production but the starter Master Sets are fairly cheaply available on UK eBay (usually the first Master Set called Rise of the Valkyries) and with more variety on American eBay including the Superhero variants.
On Amazon pricing is bizarre – complete Heroscape new starter sets and sequels are in the £200 to £300 plus region!
However on EBay you currently pay anything from £20 for just the completist set of hex tiles through to £50-60 for a used slightly bashed starter set; Some people split sets and sell components. Beware that you can pay a lot of money on some sites for individual specialist tiles, trees, mountain sections etc. More about these sets and web links on
These master starter sets contain 85 interlocking tile sections, made up of:
8 x 24 tiles, enough for the base of my board of 192 Hexes of Joy!
and then the interesting extras that give the 3D-ness:
2 ruin corners, which need a bit of work like upper floors to make them useful
10 x triple hexes (like a triangle),
10 ‘snowflake’ seven Hexes,
10 double hexes,
26 single hexes
21 fairly flimsy thin blue water tiles.
These hexes are in a variety of colours: sand, grey rock, green grass.
I have never bought the Hexon 10cm hex system that many other gamers like Bob Cordery also use for their games. I get the feeling from other blogs that it is quite expensive but you may prefer the look, size and flexibility. Each to their happy own!
I generally want smaller hexes in a smaller cluttered playing area for skirmish games like Donald Featherstone’s ‘Close Wars’ (appendix to his 1962 book Wargames) so the 4/4.5 cm hexes suit me from 15mm and 20mm through to 40mm figures. It might even stretch to 54mm figures on the usual 2p bases for very small skirmishes or duels.
In this second part of 192 Hexes of Joy, I shall look at the (not very) important overhang issue of base sizes – Are they too big for 4cm Heroscape Hexes? Do they need rebasing?
It is also an excuse for some Peter Laing eye candy, if you like slender 15mm.
There also creeps in a comment or two on basing, related to “one man equals how many?” sort of maths, ground scale, unit frontages and stuff that makes my brain hurt at times.
Overhang, Rebase or Disregard?
To start with, I laid out part of my 15mm Peter Laing colonial flying column of British Redcoats and their artillery to see how they would fit onto the Heroscape hexes.
The Peter Laing British colonial artillery pieces in this colonial flying column do fit onto one hex, but the limbers do not quite fit one hex. Limbers are definitely a two hex piece even with base trimming. Two cavalry or four Redcoats fit one hex comfortably.
The geeky Peter Laing figure ID bit: British Colonial figures 600 range
F603 British infantry advancing with F609 British officer standing
M602 British cavalry walking and A623 British Muleteer with A625 Pack Mule
Not too good on my guns but probably A609 15 pdr field gun, A610 Limber and A611 seated gunner for limber, A607 again and for limber M606 Artillery horse with rider and without rider M607
Gun crew A613 Gunner with shell, A603 British Gunner kneeling and A604 British gunner, field glasses (A602 Britsih gunner kneeling with ram not shown)
Hopefully these are correct, I will amend if told otherwise!
My Peter Laing ECW cavalry are still mostly based and ballasted as they were done in c. 1983 / mid 1980s. I thought that these ‘lobsterpots’ were the finest of 15mm figures, apart from his ECW Dragoons, except I was unsure if they had very fragile short swords or pistols.
My 15mm Peter Laing English Civil War cavalry shown here fit two by two, side by side comfortably on one Heroscape hex.
I may rebase these double cavalry figure bases eventually and add some flock variety to the bases. They were based on scrounged spare railway ballast, which could do with some partial flocking for a bit of variety. Painted in my Matt Grunge Airfix / Humbrol enamel phase, I think a recoat in gloss varnish should bring the figures out more.
More Geeky Peter Laing figure ID – skip if you wish! ECW Cavalry 500 series
Left to right – M511 Mounted Officer in Helmet (definitely Cromwell!)
M510 Mounted Officer in Hat. This could be used for Cavalier officers or Royalist generals – I used a Merit OO/HO railway small dog and on occasion a Peter Laing sheep with painted ears to represent Boy, Prince Rupert’s dog.
M506 – Mounted standard bearer in hat alongside M505 Mounted trumpeter in helmet.
and the bulk of my Roundhead Cavalry – M501 Mounted Trooper in Helmet (with sword or pistol?) Lovely figures.
Other 19 Century / WW1 cavalry shown above were bought second-hand, mounted three to a base. With the more obvious overhang, I think these will need rebasing at least onto two horses per base, but probably singly.
Bob Cordery pointed me in his comments on my last blogpost (Part 1 of 192 Hexes of Joy) that the overhang issue is often a “perceptual problem rather than a real one”, depending on the exactness of your gaming style. Bob also pointed me towards a interesting post by Archduke Piccolo on grid wargames, columns into line and such manoeuvres.
To be fair, my ‘Close Wars’ type Featherstone skirmish level games hardly use many cavalry or artillery in the cluttered skirmish terrain that disrupts and defies column, line and square manoeuvres, let alone easy artillery moves. But with a bigger 192 Hexes of Joy game board, who knows what changes of game style might result?
Will I need to rebase?
My Peter Laing ECW cavalry and ECW artillery are set out on bases in about 1983 to use them with the very affordable John Mitchell ECW rules sold by Peter Laing.
Looking up close at my John Mitchell rules, 1983 based English Civil War artillery, I think these are probably influenced by reading Terry Wise. He has much the same vignette triangular layout for artillery in his Airfix Guide to American Civil War Gaming, all to do with measuring firing angles and whether the guns need to be manhandled and relaid to fire at a different target.
There is a clear overhang of one hex from such vignette artillery basing. In fact seen overhead, this gun base spreads over 3 to 4 hexes, plus limber another one to two hexes.
To be honest, I am not that finicky now about rules for relaying guns, angles or lines of sight basing.
Looking at the photographs however I think that I may need to more compactly base or rebase my Peter Laing artillery onto a smaller near one hex affair.
Limbers, however, are as long as they are, even if bases are trimmed a bit at either end.
In real historical battle situations, the artillery train of limbers, horses and supply waggins were a bit of a nuisance or an encumbrance to the manoeuvrability of troops from one attacking or defensive position to another. Maybe they should occupy two hexes and also be classed as impassable or not allow troops to pass through them. This should add some clutter to the battlefield, much as terrain features do.
Defending such slow-moving vehicles such as baggage or supply wagons, limbers or ammunition caissons, along with their attendant civilians and family members proves for an interesting scenario.
Ground Scale, Bases and Unit Frontages
At this point I usually get a little frustrated with rule sets that start to fret about one man equals so many others on a set ground frontage of such and such. Buildings on this ground scale etc, frontages etc. My brain doesn’t do such maths on its hobby days off and as I am not playing set rules in competition at big brigade, division or Battle level, there is no need.
That is what I play 1 figure: 1 man small skirmishes with ground as it is, buildings as they are, often from another scale too – 15mm games with OO/HO railway huts or buildings etc., from whatever I have in stock.
A typical example from my childhood branch library is David Nash’s interesting little 1974 Hamlyn All-Colour Paperback book Wargames, pages 27 to 30:
Some of David Nash’s rule ideas I found completely bizarre, such as the “I can’t see you” correct or incorrect line of vision over a hill, where “line of vision must relate to the ground scale”. Of course those two figures could see and shoot at each other! A Lionel Tar reversed periscope could have told you that.
Otherwise I found David Nash’s curious little Wargames book a thought-provoking and well illustrated read from the local library, especially when thinking through rules. I now own that exact same well thumbed library copy (with the beautiful Dewey Decimal System number 793.9) Certainly a book worth revisiting in a future “on my bookshelf” style blogpost.
Here are more puzzling pages from books that I had or borrowed as a young gamer, including the affordable but strange little Know the Game – Wargaming booklet by Phil Barker / Wargames Research Group that I (was) bought as a youngster (EP Publishing, 1976/8).
Time Scales, Troop Scales and Ground Scales were earnestly explained. I stuck to 1 man equals 1 man until the John Mitchell ECW rules set out unit sizes.
Elsewhere in time I have stuck to 1 man equals 1 man, which David Nash concludes:
“For modern warfare, it is usually accepted that one piece represents just one piece … This is because there has been a change in the form of warfare. Up to about 1860, unit cohesion was of a paramount importance, but thereafter improved weapon technology increasingly demanded a much looser type of warfare.” (David Nash, Wargames, p. 30, Hamlyn, 1974)
Phil Barker’s Know the Game: Wargaming book was part of a series of 1970s illustrated individual booklets that were advertised as covering “every major sport and pastime … from archery to yoga.” This somehow put me playing with Airfix figures on the same level playing field (!) as Rugby, Football and every other major sport.
“A figure representing a Roman legionary … [herein a bit of maths] …represents 20 men in 4 ranks of 5.” Help, my brain is beginning to hurt here.
However some passages in this odd little booklet made instant sense, such as staggered figure basing for Ancients, admittedly using Airfix Ancient Britons rather than grown-up metals on my childhood budget.
At the end of all this careful explanation in books, I still think what suits me and my style of gaming best is 1 man equals 1 man, 1 gun equals 1 gun etc. at any scale above my handful of 1/300 figures (Imagine individual skirmish figure games at that tiny scale!) So I will slowly base or rebase on these lines.
Note to self at any point during reading the above books:
Remember Mark, relax, it’s just a game, just a board game, an elaborate game of “chess with a thousand pieces” as Donald Featherstone and others described it, each piece with its own movement and attack rules as you / each gamer decides, tinkering with other’s rule sets as we all do.
After considering such (not very) important issues as basing and frontages, ground scales, troop scales and time scales, it must be time for some reckless time-distorting chariot racing around a hex board circuit.
Rules to follow, but a good bit of fun … Ancient Britons versus Ancient Egyptians versus Assyrian chariots anyone?
I hope you have enjoyed the Peter Laing eye candy, and enjoy the comment by Phil Barker in Know The Game – Wargaming on suppliers under Obtaining Metal Figures c. 1976/8 on Peter Laing’s expanding range:
Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 3 August 2017.
Meanwhile over on Sidetracked, literally my Man of TIN gets Sidetracked blog for anything to do with trains, https://sidetracked2017blog.wordpress.com, my 15mm Peter Laing figures try not to blow up trains too much in the big desert wastes of 192 Hexes of Joy.
If you have enjoyed this blogpost, please ‘like’ my post or leave any comments, disagreements etc via the comments page. Thanks, Mark, Man of TIN.