Maybe the closest Peter Laing ever got to a 15mm fantasy range are his Ancients, Dark Ages and Medieval figures.
This very handy Priest with Cross F913 from his 900 Medieval range crops up in several of Peter’s suggested “Dual Use Items” such as using the Priest with his Feudal and Dark Ages range. Watch out for those Vikings!
Not quite as multi period as the useful Peter Laing sheep A921 but still a handy figure to have.
No doubt the Priest with Cross might crop up in a more Orthodox role in the Russian Civil War or the Crimea. Maybe even the Spanish Civil War? The Religious Wars and Dissolution of the Monasteries etc using the Peter Laing Renaissance Tudor range is another possible use.
I know Peter Laing often took figure requests to extend his ranges. I wonder what Peter Laing Dwarves, Orcs or Dworcs (whatever) would have looked like if anyone had asked him to produce some?
A busy rainy day rebasing Peter Laing 15mm figures.
A rainy day today, so after a short while rebasing some recently acquired Peter Laing Ancient Greeks, I had the bulk of my time well spent rebasing and flocking some of my 1980s Peter Laing English Civil War and 17th/18th Century Scots. These were the first Peter Laing figures I ever bought, so greatly treasured.
For the last thirty odd years they have waded through knee-high thick dark green flock grass or over gravel ballast, scrounged from the family model railway scrap box when my pocket money ran out.
To suit the Peter Laing / John Mitchell ECW rules they were originally based in groups of 6, 4, 3, 2 0r 1 to make up small regiments of 20 or 30 infantry, which could have casualties removed in various combinations.
Whilst these strips of figures looked good to my childish eye, for my current skirmish Close Little Wars games, I need figures on individual bases.
I have rebased the figures in my own ‘blend’, a mix of different coloured Woodland Scenics flocks, play pit fine sand, very fine local beach pebbles and some of the original 1980s ballast recycled. A little shadow of the original gravel or dark green flock remains around the figure bases, for old time’s sake to remember my childhood efforts.
In most cases I had based my strips of figures on bases roughly similar in size to the individual bases I use today, roughly 15mm by 15mm.
In some cases I could easily score and cut the original plastic card then simply remove old flock or ballast then reflock. The occasional figure that needed a new base has one made from scrap art mounting board card.
The Scots Highland troops from Peter Laing’s “suitable items from other ranges for use with the ECW (500) range” remain great great favourites.
They were designed not only to oppose Peter Laing’s original Marlburian range “to extend the range to cover the ’15 and ’45 risings “ but also “to provide suitable Scots figures for Montrose’s army.”
I still have lots of Peter Laing musketeers, pikemen and cavalry to rebase this winter as well as finding the Highland Piper and Officer.
Recently I have been painting or repainting my Peter Laing figures as needed using gloss acrylic rather than the original matt enamel Humbrol / Airfix paints easily available or scrounged in the 1980s. I really enjoyed as a child painting the bright colours of English Civil War regiments and banners, so the colourful gloss acrylics should add to this when repainting is due.
I did get around to painting my Peter Laing Lowland Regiments in the mid 1980s but never finished them off with flock or basing, as I probably ran out of expensive Plastic Card. The pocket money ‘war budget’ kept running out, as I usually (over)spent it on figures rather than basing materials.
I have recently acquired on EBay a few more bashed Peter Laing Highlanders and Lowlanders that need repainting, along with a few more Marlburian infantry to paint and base. These were recently obtained from Alec Green, swapped for an strange excess of Marlburian drummers and gunners.
I think that there will be a few Close Little Wars skirmishes and ambushes in the suitably “cluttered terrain” of the Glens this coming spring, once the Highland snow has melted of course!
You can read more about John Mitchell’s English Civil War starter rules and the Peter Laing ECW range here:
The blog title? Borrowed from Meghan Trainor’s song All about the Bass – watch the retro version by the talented Kate Davies and Postmodern Jukebox and other ensemble / tour versions on the Postmodern Jukebox channel on YouTube and ITunes.
Hope you enjoyed some of the fruits of my rainy day at the kitchen table spent “flocking“, as it’s known in my household.
Blog posted by Mark, Mr MIN Man of TIN blog, October 2016. All photos unless stated by Man of TIN blog.
I asked in these previous John Mitchell / Peter Laing related blogposts if any reader had bought one of these painted sets. Alec Green bought these delightful Indians from an online auction site.
These well painted Peter Laing figures shown in the box appear to be:
F3007 Indian with bow firing.
M3007 Mounted Indian with bow, charging.
M3008 Mounted Indian with rifle, charging.
M3009 Mounted Indian with spear, charging.
The hand drawn box lid is similar in style to the ECW starter rules and advert by John Mitchell posted previously – see blog links above.
John Mitchell recently passed away in June 2016, aged 83 in Malvern.
John Trevor MITCHELL of Ledbury, formerly of Hook Bank Park and Malvern, passed away on June 19th, aged 83 years. Beloved husband of Janet and much loved dad of Sally. Will be sadly missed by all Family and Friends. The Funeral Service [was] held on Wednesday June 29th, 2016 at Hereford Crematorium. (Published in the Malvern Gazette on 24 June 2016)
Peter Laing’s first figures – the first 15mm Wargames figures ever produced in October 1972 – were a small range of Marlburian figures. Literally a small range as they are somewhere between 12mm and 15mm and very slender!
I have been chatting by email with fellow Peter Laing collectors Ian Dury and Alec Green in the Midlands about this Marlburian range, a few of which I bought directly by post from Peter Laing and painted c. 1983. Recently I found a small group of a few unpainted Marlburians, mixed in with other figures in a 15mm figure job lot online.
What I liked about Peter’s range were the link items or his suggested possible “Dual Use” items that fitted more than one range – more for your money if the figures could be (painted to be) used in several periods. I have some of these lovely Highlanders, but that’s another blog story.
The Duke of Wellington dismissively observed to William Siborne, “You can as well write the history of a ball as of a battle.”
Siborne had asked for the Duke’s memories of the day amongst others to help accurately construct his diorama model of Waterloo, which now rests in the National Army Museum. Well worth visiting in its new restoration.
A short account of this model can be found in Harry Pearson’s autobiography Achtung Schweinhund! featured as a warning against investing too much money in toy soldiers over the years (whoops!); a longer account can be found in a book by Miniature Wargames games writer and historian Peter Hofschroer’s cleverly titled Wellington’s Smallest Victory (Faber, 2004).
Having just finished one longish games write up (the longer as sections of it wiped once), I find this Wellington quote interesting as the possible difference between ‘history’ and ‘fiction’ – the point of view (or continuously confusing shifting point of view if you are Virginia Woolf) that it’s written from. Is it an impersonal lab report? Is it the skeleton plot of historical fiction? A confused blend of both?
As I write up recent tabletop skirmishes, I have been thinking about the links between fiction and gaming. Writing up games reports of past battles, I am reminded of Wellington’s (dismissive?) quote. Commonly many games bloggers feel that their thrilling accounts can appear somewhat tedious for other readers.
Some of the more interesting ones (insert your favourites here) go further than a blow-by-blow account; they reflect on the rule changes or improvisations that crop up, being a form of playtesting.
Such blog write ups become demonstration games for rules, very much in the spirit of H.G. Wells in “The Battle of Hook’s Farm” section of Little Wars or Donald Featherstone’s classic battles in his 1962 War Games. Others like Robert Louis Stevenson’s Yallobelly Times newspaper style battle reports take on a life of their own.
Games reports also hopefully share and remember the escapist “joy and forgetfulness” that gaming brings with itself.
The full Wellington quotes from the ever reliable WikiQuotes are:
“The history of a battle, is not unlike the history of a ball. Some individuals may recollect all the little events of which the great result is the battle won or lost, but no individual can recollect the order in which, or the exact moment at which, they occurred, which makes all the difference as to their value or importance.” Letter to John Croker (8 August 1815), as quoted in The History of England from the Ascension of James II(1848) by Macaulay, Volume 1 Chapter 5; and in The Waterloo Letters (1891) edited by H. T. Siborne.
“Just to show you how little reliance can be placed even on what are supposed the best accounts of a battle, I mention that there are some circumstances mentioned in General —’s account which did not occur as he relates them. It is impossible to say when each important occurrence took place, or in what order.” Wellington’s papers (17 August 1815), as quoted in The History of England from the Ascension of James II (1848) by Thomas Babington Macaulay.
Jane Austen (1775 – 1817), being Wellington’s shorter lived contemporary (Wellington lived 1769 – 1852), would have something to say about the value of writing the history of a ball, from many shifting viewpoints and many carefully observed details, especially if you want to point up character. The famous Brussels ball on the eve of Waterloo also features in Thackeray’s Vanity Fair (1847/8).
Inside Peter Hofschroer’s book (page 178 ) is another version of the “writing a battle and ball” quote, when Wellington talked about his view the accuracy of Siborne’s Waterloo model (quoted by Hofschroer from Sir John R. Mowbray, “Seventy Years at Westminster”, Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine July 1898):
“… If you want to know my opinion it’s all farce, fudge! They went to one gentleman and said “What did you do?” “I did so and so.” To another, “What did you do?” “I did such and such a thing.” One did it at ten and another at twelve, and they have mixed up the whole. The fact is, a battle is like a ball; they kept footing it all the day through.”
And to another, Francis Egerton in 1845 (Hofschroer, page 179):
” … of which beautiful work he [Siborne] has made a scene of confusion, such as would be a drawing or representation in one view of all the scenes and acts of a play in five acts.”
Wellington in his old age in his actions towards Siborne does not come out of this account by Peter Hofschroer too well.
And now for some gratuitous photographs of the few Peter Laing 15mm Waterloo / Napoleonic figures I bought as a young teenager, still much as I painted them 30+ years ago. They are due for rebasing and some odd retouches of paint soon. I wished I had bought more and have since acquired a few additional ones for future small skirmish games.
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).
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.
John Mitchell sold starter sets of 15mm (hand painted?) Wargames armies.
The advert here does not mention ECW specifically …
… but in this advert from Military Modelling October 1983 it gives more details:
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:
More about John Mitchell’s 15mm card buildings and building sheets in my next Peter Laing related blogpost.
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.
Possibly my favourite of Peter Laing’s 15mm figures, this is the dismounted Dragoon firing (figure F515) from his English Civil War range.
I’m not entirely sure why it’s probably my favourite Peter Laing figure (at least of the non marching advancing figures). Is it the colour scheme or the slightly independent elite status of dragoons?
Anyone else got a favourite (Peter Laing) gaming figure?
I’m not suggesting however that we start a Peter Laing “guess my favourite figure” charades competition as some gamers allegedly do for Airfix figures, according to reliable sources in Harry Pearson’s autobiography Achtung Schweinhund! That would be little too niche …
I have a few spare unpainted ones of these figures already destined to become 7th Cavalry or dismounted Union Cavalry in a very different Civil War, so will see how that paint conversion works out.
Posted by Mr. MIN, Man of TIN, 1st August 2016.
Peter Laing “PL P.S.” postscript
Lovely to hear from several Peter Laing fans and Bloggers on favourite figures – both John The Wargames Hermit and Ian Dury liked Peter’s Late Victorian Parade figures, bicyclists and goose stepping figures.
Ian Dury sent me this picture of his favourites. Thanks Ian for sharing these: