First Figure available

Having made a production mould, the first figures is now available to be purchased if anyone is interested:


http://www.blackhat.co.uk/online_shop/index.php?cPath=173&osCsid=36d5d456ee0c50a53267e9bb8f63c04b

These are being produced for myself and my own Little Wars gaming, but I have been asked by some people to make them more widely available.

The first is a British Guard Infantryman – they are solid metal castings in 54mm in a 4 piece kit and cost £2.50 a figure.

Next up will be the redesigned Home Service head for this same body, plus the officer body, sword arm and left marching arm…

Ballistics Tests

When I originally played Little Wars we used Airfix plastic 1/32nd scale figures, unbased (and mostly unpainted) and fired matchsticks at them and larger bullets from an Ambush! gun, as I’ve already mentioned.

Even using matchsticks, a hit would knock the figure over and possibly take a couple of others with it in collateral damage.

I had a play last night testing out firing matchsticks at the sample LWR figures I have painted up and even at fairly close range, they simply bounce off as the solid metal figures are so much heavier.

I also tried firing small pieces of metal sprue, to see if I cast up some bullets they would work – but they seem equally light and don’t knock the figures over…

Funny Little Wars uses the concept for artillery fire that you measure from where the matchstick lands (or the figure it hits) and that gives you the burst radius – different weights of artillery having different radii – and then you throw a D6 for each figure within the radius.

The discussion of Kriegspiel at the end of Little Wars discusses this idea as well, using different weights of screws or bolts which are placed in the end of a gun barrel and then fired out using a matchstick to strike them. I haven’t tried this yet to see if it would work – it is only really suitable for the larger guns with a long barrel as the shorter field guns have a barrel which is not as long as a matchstick anyway.

Although I intend to play most using Funny Little Wars I would like to use classic Little Wars as well…

Army Red

In the original Little Wars, H G Wells designated his forces as the Red Army and the Blue Army, rather than deciding on any actual countries.

Funny Little Wars rules does the same, but matches the colours to actual countries from the turn of the century, so Army Red is British, Army Horizon Blue is French, Army Black German, etc.

I am aiming to reproduce the two armies in Little Wars so will be developing Army Red and Army Blue based on British and French forces respectively.

Each army will initially consist of 80 infantry, 24 cavalry and 3 guns. For Army Red this will break down to:

3 units of 20 Line Infantry
1 Unit of 20 Guards
1 unit of 12 Lancers
1 unit of 12 Dragoons
1 Heavy gun with 4 crew
2 Field guns with 3 crew

My plan for the figures is to produce basic bodies for the troops with different heads and arms to cover the different troop types. I am extending this to produce a body for troopers, officers and Standard Bearers, but the latter two are just variants on the main trooper body.

Having separate heads also means that I can fit a 54mm figure into a 9 inch mould meaning I can cast them myself. The cavalry are going to be trickier, but we will probably split the horse into two halves so it can be cast.

Martin Baker, who sculpts a lot of my ranges for Black Hat Miniatures, is working on the figures for me and so far has produced a sample British infantryman with two different heads. I have painted up a couple of samples here:

painted2

I’ve asked Martin to make a couple of changes to the Home Service Helmet as I’m not sure that the shape is quite right.

All the figures will be produced in minimal, “parade” style kit – so without back packs, etc as that is the style of figure most often used by Wells and also harkens back to the British Guard set from Airfix that I remember from my childhood. They will also all be in marching poses as I prefer that look.

I will probably look at buying other figures to use as Generals, etc rather than produce a figure that I really only need one of.

Eventually I will add light troops such as the Rifle Brigade and other ancillary forces which are used in Funny Little Wars.

More pictures of figures as I get the greens and then mould, cast and paint them.

Artillery Park

When I first played Little Wars as a teenager, we had just four guns.

These were the small civil war cannon that fired tiny pellets and were quite ineffective and the bigger Britain’s cannon that fired matchsticks.

We used the Cannon with matchsticks as long range, accurate weapons and then used the guns that came with the game AMBUSH! which fired plastic shells for the little guns. You placed the base of the pistol on top of the gun and then fired. They weren’t wildly accurate, but when you hit you knocked over several figures.

The guns I used to have are long gone, so I started collecting them from ebay and have amassed a fair collection of field and heavy guns.

These fall into two types:

Field Guns

guns

I have 7 of these in various states of scruffiness. They do all fire and still have strong springs and firing mechanisms.

Heavy Guns

bigguns

I have 3 of these that are fully working, though the howitzer style gun needs some cleaning for it to fire smoothly.

I also have two broken guns that I am hoping to make a complete gun from:

broken

The one on the left has a broken firing mechanism and missing spring, while the one on the right is just missing part of the trail which means the firing mechanism doesn’t engage properly. I’m hoping that surgery will let me combine them into a working model.

So, 10 guns with a potential 11th which is easily enough for a large game and something I could only dream of 35 years ago!

Where it all started

litwar

When I was 12, I saw a national news program item (on Nationwide) about a wargames convention in London. It was the first time I’d ever heard of it, I was intrigued and discussed it with a friend on the way home from school. He was interested as well.

That weekend I went to the library and asked if they had any books on wargaming. The only thing that they had was “Little Wars” by H G Wells and armed with this, I bought some 1/32nd scale Airfix Napoleonics, some cannon and set out on a journey into wargaming that has now lasted 35 years.

After Little Wars I discovered Practical Wargaming by Charles Wesencraft and the concept of dice and smaller figures and this lead to Bruce Quarrie and Napoleonics and so on.

Nowadays, 35 years later, I run my own wargaming company Black Hat Miniatures and play a wide variety of games. But somehow, I have always looked back on those early Little Wars games with affection.

Then, I came across a copy of Little Wars and bought it and then I saw the newly published rules “Funny Little Wars” which updated Wells’ rules in allow for more complex games but which still retain the fun and enjoyment of crawling around on your hands and knees firing cannons.

This final set of rules gave me the momentum I needed and I spent a few weeks scouring ebay until I had managed to buy a number of Britain’s matchstick firing cannons. I was still undecided about the figures though – the Armies in Plastic were nice enough but I didn’t like the multiple poses.

A month or so ago, it suddenly struck me that I am running a Toy Soldier business and therefore why don’t I make my own Little Wars figures?

The figures I want are parade style, marching and with that Toy Soldier look that matches the Britain’s used in “Little Wars”.

This blog is going to document my progress as I build up Army Red and Army Blue, get the figures commissioned and cast, and hopefully play my first few games in the garden.

The Little Wars Revisited range of figures I develop will eventually be available for sale for anyone who is interested and likes the style I have chosen, but it is going to very much be a range for my own pleasure without any real thought about commercial pressures to change styles or the figures produced to match other people’s desires.

These are going to be my toys…