A Muffled Drum for Stuart Asquith

Legionaries, Tribesmen, your former General & painter Stuart Asquith is no more. 15mm Laings

Saddened to hear of the passing of Stuart Asquith, former wargames magazine editor and author:

http://grandduchyofstollen.blogspot.com/2019/11/stuart-asquith.html

https://battlegames.co.uk/stuart-asquith/

It is often said that a man dies two deaths, once when he physically dies and second when he is past living memory and his name and works are forgotten.

Someone like Stuart Asquith with his magazine columns and books, along with the many figures he painted, will not be forgotten, at least not by a small band of wargamers of a certain age and hopefully younger people who discover his simple approach in his accessible wargaming books.

Beginners will not forget borrowing from branch libraries or now tracking down online his Military Modelling Guide to Wargaming, which had lots of entry level plastic figures and simple rules. I still have and use the local branch library copy that I borrowed as child, picked up cheaply when it was sold off by the library service.

Solo Wargamers will not forget his interesting book on the topic with some innovative solo games mechanisms.

Siege Wargamers will not forget his book on this unusual subject.

I really like his Comfortable Wargaming articles with their laid back, enjoy your games approach with No Units. No Morale Tests: “If you want to shell out around £30 for a set of rules, then feel free, but you know, you really don’t have to – don’t worry about phases or factors, go back to simple enjoyment.”

http://lonewarriorswa.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Comfortable-War-Gaming.pdf

I never met Stuart in person but you feel like you sort of know somebody when you have read and reread their books and magazines for 30 to 40 years.

However in the last couple of years I was fortunate enough to be able to say a small thank you for all that he had done for my hobby.

I heard from Stuart after reprinting some sections of the Brian Carrick article Big Wars on 54mm gaming sections from the Battle For Wargamers Military Modelling Wargames Manual on my blog(s) as part of a discussion on 54mm garden gaming.

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/06/30/brian-carricks-big-wars-article/

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2017/06/30/brian-carricks-big-wars/

Stuart asked if anyone had a spare copy of this Manual magazine / annual as he could not find his own copy. He wanted to see a copy again but there were no second hand copies around. Not wishing to part with the original (a treasured gift from my Dad), I managed to photocopy it all and send it in a presentation folder to him.

It was my small way of saying thanks for all he had done for simplifying and inspiring my hobby over many years. I was happy to have given him a weekend of comfortable wargames nostalgia.

I was trying not to be a total fanboy but Stuart Asquith – the Stuart Asquith – had read my blogs. He left a comment on them and then I had a few emails from him.

Could I have imagined that as an 1970s 1980s Airfix kid pushing my plastic armies around a felt cloth on the dining room table?

1981: My first Osprey book written by Stuart, bought to help paint my first Peter Laing ECW Army

The editor of the wargames bits and books from Military Modelling Magazine, Stuart Asquith was a giant in my Airfix boy eyes, along with Donald Featherstone. More important to me than any 1970s or 80s popstar, TV celebrity or footballer. (No, you’re right, that is a bit total fanboy but still …)

I was delighted and not a little surprised to hear that he was still enthusiastic and active in our wonderful hobby, cropping up on some of his regular gaming partners’ blogs. Hope for us all yet …

Stuart’s former 15mm Peter Laing troops https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/full-metal-hic-jacet/

I received an appreciative email or two back from Stuart, who was also pleased when I let him know that his 15mm Peter Laing Roman Army and Ancient British Celtic armies were in good hands, mine, and still in use. Painted and used by Stuart, they now take pride of place amongst many treasured objects in my games room, still looking good after many years but awaiting rebasing.

They receive a passing mention of these very troops in his Comfortable Wargaming article in the form of Boadicea in her chariot that Peter Laing had specially made for Stuart, one figure that he had not parted with when he started downsizing his figure collection.

Amidst our email conversations, I mentioned the Wargames Manual’s general unavailability secondhand to John Curry of the History of Wargaming Project, who started talking to Stuart about possibly reprinting the Wargames Manual as part of his long to-do list of reprints. John has already reprinted several Stuart Asquith titles. http://www.wargaming.co/recreation/asquithandwise.htm

Thinking back to my first Osprey book written by him to help paint my Pater Laing ECW armies, Stuart’s 2019 reprinted ECW rules book ought to be on my Christmas list.

Painted and owned by Stuart Asquith, I am now proud to command these 15mm Peter Laings

Tell it to the Bees …

Like bees, when their bee keepers die, I wonder if you have to break it to the tiny tin and lead men very gently that their painter and former (owner) Commander in Chief is no longer with us, gone to that Valhalla in the skies which is a bit like an eternal weekend of the Wargames Holiday Centre.

There, Stuart Asquith and Donald Featherstone, H.G. Wells and many of the wargames pioneers who are no longer with us are, I hope, having good natured arguments about wargaming in the afterlife and rolling the odd dice together …

Thank you Stuart Asquith, not forgotten, whenever and wherever a simple comfortable wargame is played and enjoyed.

I remain proud to lead his tiny legions and tribes into battle with his blessing as their new Commander.

Blog posted by Asquith fanboy Mark Man of TIN, 4/5 November 2019

B.P.S. Blog Post Script:

The Muffled Drum of the title is common at soldiers’ funerals as in this Victorian poem by Anne S. Bushby, minor poet and Victorian translator of Hans Christian Andersen http://ojs.ub.gu.se/ojs/index.php/njes/article/download/240/237

http://www.blackcatpoems.com/b/the_soldiers_funeral.html

I bought a Scottish Croft for only £1

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After a cool early morning stroll through my nearest local village I walked past a fundraising car boot sale. I was tempted to start a small Sylvanian Army by equipping small furry clothed creatures with shields, swords and spears (Redwall style) but kindly left them all to be discovered with delight by a  local child.

Instead I bought a Scottish Croft for a Pound.

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Thankfully I don’t now have to upsticks and move Northwards to embrace the Good Life of Self Sufficiency anytime soon, only to find both the off-grid smallholding novelty and the delusion wear out quickly. Then write a book about it.

Or maybe not – because it is a very very tiny Croft House and a very small piece of land. It also comes with a tiny flock of sheep built in!

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Instead I moved in some suitably tiny tenants into this little resin Lilliput Lane building – some of my vintage 15mm Peter Laing 1715 or 45 Rising figures. I’m not too sure if they are happy about the sheep or the related Highland Clearances that will follow in the next century.

These 15mm Peter Laing highlanders that I bought as a youngster are here:
https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/11/04/more-peter-laing-scots/
https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/10/24/all-about-the-base-about-the-base/

Those precious few Peter Laing sheep have a lot to answer for! Posted when I thought only had one surviving 15mm sheep: https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/29/peter-laing-sheep/

Crofting, Clearances, Sheep or People?
The Highland Clearances (or  the “eviction of the Gaels”) were the forced evictions of many tenants in the Scottish Highlands and Islands, mostly in the period 1750 to 1860.

“After the initial swift and bloodthirsty retribution for the Jacobite rebellions, laws were instigated to prevent any further groundswell of support for the previous monarchs. In 1747 ‘The Act of Proscription’ was passed. Clan tartan had become popular during the Jacobite years and this was outlawed under this new act, as were bagpipes and the teaching of Gaelic. The Act was a direct attack on the Highland culture and way of life, and attempted to eradicate it from a modern and Hanoverian-loyal Scotland.”

So says:
https://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/HistoryofScotland/The-Highland-Clearances/

The article continues:  “It was not only Highland culture that disappeared over this period but also the Highlanders themselves, for the most prosaic of reasons: money. It was deduced by those landowners on whose lands the clans lived and worked, that sheep were exponentially more financially productive than people. The wool trade had begun to boom and there was literally more value in sheep than people. So, what followed was an organized and intentional removal of the population from the area. In 1747, another Act was passed, the ‘Heritable Jurisdictions Act’, which stated that anyone who did not submit to English rule automatically forfeited their land: bend the knee or surrender your birthright …”

The hundred or so years between 1750 and 1860 saw the bulk of the Highland Clearances, forced eviction from farms or a move into alternative Crofting tenancies. For many, it led to eventual forced emigration to avoid famine and failed industries like kelp farming. It is still an emotive area of many people’s family histories scattered around the world. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Highland_Clearances

So a Scottish Croft for only an English Pound has a lot of complex and partisan economic, social, colonial and military history lurking behind it.

With such big spending, I could have posted this blog post on Pound Store Plastic Warriors.

Two other wargames blogs on a 1:72 Jacobite theme

Rod’s interesting Airfix conversions https://rodwargaming.wordpress.com

Tony Kitchen at Tin Soldiering On http://tonystoysoldiers.blogspot.com/search/label/The%2045

For more of my Lilliput Lane buildings of this sadly vanished uk manufacturer: https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/06/11/lilliput-lane-buildings-for-15mm-figures/

Now back to researching those early Scouting handbooks and Wide Games scenarios. Scottish Scouts were allowed to wear kilts.

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Image source: Pinterest

Blog posted by Mark Man of
TiN on 28 July 2019

Rosemary Sutcliff Birth Centenary December 2020

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About 18 months ago I re-read Rosemary Sutcliff’s first book The Eagle of The Ninth for the first time since childhood. I also had strong memories of this Roman adventure story set beyond Hadrian’s  Wall in Scotland from the late 1970s BBC Children’s / Family TV serial version.

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I was reminded of this book by Alan Gruber the Duchy of Tradgardland blog’s latest SPQR related Roman scenario   http://tradgardland.blogspot.com/2019/07/warriors-looked-out-awaiting-arrival-of.html

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A brief biography …

How the book was written or inspired:

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C. Walter Hodges’ illustrations

A suitably mountainous pine tree background with some of my Toyway 54mm Romans.

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December 2020 is Rosemary Sutcliff’s birth centenary. There are several interesting blogs about her including sporadic ones by Anthony Lawton, her godson and literary executor:

https://therosemarysutcliffarchive.wordpress.com

Oxford University Press have a few,  sadly very few,  of her most popular titles in print:

https://global.oup.com/education/content/children/authors/rosemary-sutcliff/?region=uk

Rosemary Sutcliff  has a good extensive Wikipedia entry with links

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosemary_Sutcliff

Blue Remembered website has several years of blog posts  up to 2017 written by Sandra Garside-Neville and Sarah Cuthbertson, two fans of her work http://blueremembered.blogspot.com

https://sutcliff.fandom.com/wiki/Sutcliff_Wiki

http://www.historicalnovels.info/Rosemary-Sutcliff.html

Hang on a minute, I ask myself, weren’t you working on Scouting Wide Games?

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Suggested reading for Boy Scouts for imaginative Wide Games personas  -Wide Games 1931

This is not a million miles from my Scouting Wide Games as some of the recommended imaginative historical reading for  “The Cloak of Romance” section of Scouting Wide Games includes authors that Sutcliff’s admired.  Rosemary Sutcliff also liked Kipling’s historical romance Puck of Pook’s Hill.

The historicalnovels.info webpage mentions:

“Sutcliff felt a particular affinity with Rudyard Kipling. His work, especially his collected stories Puck of Pook’s Hill, aroused her interest in the way a conquered land can become “heart-home” to its conquerors, as seen in The Eagle of the Ninth and epitomised by Kipling’s poem “The Roman Centurion’s Song”. 

I think Rosemary Sutcliff’s work and Henry Treece books have probably inspired the odd Wide Game Scouting scenario.

One great fun 54mm Roman Wargames website to explore is By Toutatis! or Romans Go Home by Allan Tidmarsh channels Asterix http://romansgohome.blogspot.com

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For the last 18 months I have had a Roman “Close Wars” Skirmish idea focussed on troops vs natives nicknamed Full Metal Hic Jacet

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/full-metal-hic-jacet/

Other equally spurious projects have got in the way a bit.

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Teutoburg Forest AD 9 (Osprey) was one example of an Eagle of the Ninth style disaster.

The  Marcus Didius Falco detective series set in Ancient Rome  has similar disbanded and destroyed legions. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcus_Didius_Falco

To end …

Some more gratuitous pictures of Peter Laing Romans (painted by Stuart Asquith!)

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Peter Laing 15mm catalogue extract

So there you are, another cheerfully rambling blog post about toy soldiers and books.

Blog posted by Mark, Man of TIN on 16/17 July 2019.

Restored corner of the house that is my Hex Boards of Joy

For a few months I have not done much gaming to write up.

Not since a short Mountie Skirmish in late November 2018 last year https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2018/11/30/mountie-ambush-game-15mm/

For a few months my gaming area and tabletop have been covered in broken Britain’s figures awaiting repair, Peter Laing 15mm figures awaiting paint, tools and useful bits of scrap for modelling.

54mm superheroes and tiny blocky Minecraft figures

I am as happy casting, repairing and painting figures as I am gaming with them, hence the quote on Man of TIN blog from Donald Featherstone:

The largest hex game board has hung on the wall being a former picture frame – a neat storage solution tucked away in the corner of a shared living room.

As part of the Scout Wide Games research and rules writing, I am not sure if my hex boards will be too small for the 42mm range Scout figures I have painted. Maybe I should have gone smaller, say OO/HO railway or my Pound Store figure conversions? Different size figures, different scale scenarios?

15mm Peter Laing figures for a different scale

I have been playing around with scale from 54mm superheroes and tiny blocky Minecraft blind bag figures (Heroscape hexes have a 3D landscape Minecraft feel) down to 15mm Peter Laing figures, which give a bigger playing space.

Set up for 42mm range STS Little Britons Scouts (Boy and Girl) …

Having a large enough landscape for the Wide Games scenarios is obviously harder with the larger Scout figures 42mm Shiny Toy Soldiers / Little Britons range (from Spencer Smith Miniatures), so the scale and ground space available may shape the scope of future scenarios.

My couple of quick paint conversions of Pound Store figures in a smaller scale may enlarge the territory available to my Scouting games – I can cheaply and quickly knock up a couple of patrols of these to try this out.

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2019/05/19/pound-store-plastic-boy-scout-32mm-conversions/

32mm Pound Store Scout conversions & the original penny plastic figures

Part of the Wide Games appeal is that tabletop Wide Games could equally function as Garden games especially with the largest, simplest 60mm semi-flat Scouts – as pointed by Alan the Tradgardmastre of the Duchy Of Tradgardland Blog.

http://tradgardland.blogspot.com/2019/05/scouts-for-wide-games.html

If only my ageing knees and back and the weather were up to it …

The rest of the space?

A column of Really Useful Boxes divides the playing space from the crafting space. More Really Useful Boxes and Shoe Boxes are stowed away below the gaming table and the chairs.

Acquiring job lots of broken toy soldiers to repair requires storage. The Peter Laing figures, both painted and awaiting paint, require storage. Scrap modelling materials, tools and paints require storage.

For the last few months, wriggling into the old crafting chair has felt like sliding into a narrow cockpit to focus down onto the hand tools, paintbrush and figures in front of me. It’s also meant that I had no gaming space. Shifting these about and restowing boxes has helped no end.

My flap-down desk with cardboard screen keeping paper contents and books safe from paint.

I understand more fully now the points about concentration and wellbeing made in the Models for Heroes videos. There is a mental craft zone that the world shrinks down to.

I am reminded of the ominous episode in Harry Pearson’s gaming memoir Achtung Schweinhund where Harry hears from his gaming best friend about an obsessive hoarder (stereotypically male, middle aged, single). This man’s decaying house is in danger of collapse from an Aladdin’s Cave of stored vintage unboxed figures, magazines and newspapers, yet eerily the paint table is immaculate and ordered. Harry and friend see a vision of their possible lonely futures.

My Crafting “Cockpit”: Phoenix 43 Trek Cart kit & washed-out Cath Kidston pink Guards mug

The cutting board and painting space that forms my crafting area has now transferred to the right of the board onto a flap down modern bureau desk, rather than than the traditional modeller’s Roll Top type desk. It fits into the rest of the family without sitting in a room apart. It’s stuffed full of toy soldier things and research notes and books for other work-related projects, protected from paint splatters by a removable cardboard screen. Reorganising the contents means that everything should be able to fold back up out of sight.

The desk top “display” space itself could also do with a tidy up as it is currently piled with figures and books that I have worked on in the last year. Inspiration but it’s also a jumble of what has been inside my head recently.

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2018/01/15/the-domestic-modelling-joys-of-the-roll-top-desk/

Next to this sits a small bulging cupboard stuffed full with books, hollowcast figures and hoarded Airfix figures and kits from childhood onwards, again its top piled with this year’s projects. Again all of these could do with a sort through on another grey day.

More Really Useful storage boxes live in the garage for my metal casting kit, buildings, some other temperature proof gaming stuff and metal figures, whilst the indoor storage is reserved for the more vulnerable fragile vintage and childhood plastics figures and vehicles.

The painting above the desk is a recent acquisition, a framed Illustrated London News print of the Lancashire Rifle Volunteers parading at Knowsley Park. Britain’s Victorian Home Guard against another Napoleonic French invasion, and finely dressed at that. One for Marvin at Subterranean Militarism!

The Review of Lancashire Rifle Volunteers in Knowsley Park. Illustration for The Illustrated London News, 15 September 1860.

So there you are, restored –

an experimental games lab to try out Wide Games or gaming scenarios indoors,

an encouragement to paint and base those Peter Laings stuck in the lead limbo of the ‘work in progress’ painting box,

hopefully a little more presentable part of the Living Room if we have visitors to the house!

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 9 June 2019.

Wellington’s 250th Birthday Playlist BBC Radio 4 Extra

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Peter Laing 15mm Wellington and British cavalry

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Wellington’s 250th birthday celebrated today 1st May by the quirky radio programme on “Wellington’s  Playlist”, his music choices  – catch it on repeat and BBC I-player  / BBC Sounds https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03m3j6w

Farewell Google +, ByeBye Google Plus, Hello MeWe

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Welcome to the new Peter Laing community on Me We, home to many Google+ refugees https://mewe.com/join/peterlaingfigures

Farewell Google+ Peter Laing pages (2017-2019).

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/06/peter-laing-15mm-google-community-page/

Hello MeWe.

Thanks to Ian Dury.

There will no doubt be more gaming and figure related MeWe groups https://mewe.com/join/aminiaturesgroupaboutwargamesandtoysoldiers

Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN on April 1st / 2nd, 2019.

Vintage Pound Store Transport and Plastic Space Warriors

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Vintage transport for equally vintage Airfix WW1 20mm figures …works well with 15mm

Cross posted from my Pound Store Plastic Warriors blog, some more great little vintage plastic tat

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2019/03/28/vintage-pound-store-transport/

and in a back garden galaxy far far away

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Tim Mee Galaxy Laser Team Space Patrol

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2019/03/23/tim-mee-galaxy-laser-team-figures

Plastic joy! (In part, thanks to the Duke of Tradgardland).

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN on 29 March 2019.