Monday 4 March 2024


 When Charles got in touch to let me know Graham had passed away, I must admit it came as a surprise and a shock. Others, over the last few weeks, have commented on their own relationships, memories and experience of Graham, he was a well know and well liked member of the Wargaming World. 

I wanted to take a bit of time to write down some of my own thoughts. 

My experience of Graham was firstly as a fellow member of John Ray's "A Military Gentleman Forum", then as the creator and owner of Crann Tara Miniatures, then as someone who encouraged me to make more figures, then as a key organiser of the very first  A Military Gentleman weekend meet and wargame at Partizan, then as a fellow gamer battling me across the battlefields of Central Europe in the mid eighteenth Century, in many, many games which Charles Grant masterfully curated and ran in the process of producing his wonderful "Refighting History" series of books, then as part of the triumvirate of Himself, Charles and I as we collectively played our own part in building up the Crann Tara range, then as a man of good company and wit, and finally as a friend. 

For a 4-5 year period from 2015 till 2020 (and, unfortunately the world then becoming a different place) we gamed together, ate splendidly, drank (occasionally slightly too much), dreamed of figures, then made them, and kept going and going. On reflection, probably my most productive and enjoyable period of Wargaming in my whole life. And I have Graham to thank for so much of that. 

Happy memories, my thanks, dear friend.

I just finished these, they wouldn't exist if it hadn't been for Graham

Saturday 7 January 2023

Regt Basilicata

 In a break from the somewhat sporadic review of work done over recent years, something a bit more current. It's fair to say with the Pandemic, job changes and other non hobby interests in recent years that this has been a bit of a fallow period for me in hobby terms. I've certainly been busy, just not doing this much. As a result this unit has "sat on the bench" for more time than I would like to actually properly add up, but I've finally got back in the saddle and had some sustained and consistent time to get them over the line. Very pleased with the end result, as usual, my very amateurish photo set up does not do these guys justice, but they are probably, on balance, the best overall unit I've ever done, right down to the Flags.

So here we have Kingdom of Naples, 1740's Provincial Regiment Basilicata. 

Saturday 22 October 2022

Regt Meyer

 Here we have the second of the standing pose units I have in my Savoia Army, Regt Meyer, again painted by the highly talented Mr Jarvis

Thursday 13 October 2022

The Second Pose

 I made two units using this original pose, and then decided to do another one, this time standing, I think it was less successful, and if I was making it again, I would do a few aspects of it differently, however, I do think it turned out to an "acceptable" level, but not my best work. Here's a unit of them, Kalbermatten, very nicely painted by Dave Jarvis.

Tuesday 13 September 2022

Savoia Starts

 Many moons ago, in fact, frighteningly now over 30 years ago, I was an undergraduate student at the University of Aberdeen, and on cold winter days (and it does get cold in Aberdeen!), I used to head to the library for some warm and a seat in a comfy quiet spot. Formal studies over, I'd look for something interesting to read from the History section and one day I stumbled across a copy of an old book titled "The Defence of Piedmont 1742-48" by Spenser Wilkinson. It was a book published in the late 1920's, largely I suspect for an academic audience, by Spenser, who was a Fellow and Don at Oxford at the time. I have to say that I had no knowledge of the subject matter at all, but the dates looked interesting so I lifted the book from the shelf and started reading ......

It was, quite frankly, fantastic and I was hooked. Yes, it's an academic style history book of it's period, but for those with an intertest of military history of the period it's a gold mine. It features lots and lots of campaign detail, gorgeous maps and covers a period that is so little known, but actually so important in European History of that time. It's a great period, see-sawing in successes and failure from one side to the other. Most English speaking folk, tend to focus on Frederick et al in Northern Europe, but in many ways his theatre and contemporary period offers just as much, if not more, but it's virtually forgotten.

Being a limited run academic book of the 1920's it's very hard to come by and in those pre internet days, and with student poverty in full grasp of me, there was no way I could secure an actual copy for myself. So in the weeks before my final graduation I spent several days, photocopying every single page of it and put it away in a box file for my future reference......

Fast forward more than 20 years later and suddenly I was starting to make figures for this time period, and I thought "what the hell, nobody else is ever going to make these figures, let's give it a go"

So I did!

My first ever Savoia figure, a pose that I've grown to value as time has passed, it combines a static pose, but with just enough "movement" in it to suggest it could be a moving figure as well. This was the first "sample figure" that I painted once it had been cast for production. It now resides in John Ray's collection as a small token of my admiration for his skill and the kindness he's shown me with his time and tips and guidance on figure making over the years.

 Next came some NCO types (two sculpts) made openhanded  to allow for modification and conversion.

And some Musicians

And I did also tweak one of the NCO's to make a bandmaster (never production cast though, sorry Graham)

And finally, I did some basic conversions on the coats etc of the existing French Officers from the Crann Tara Jacobite Range to make some suitable command for the first unit. This was the end product


Thursday 1 September 2022

Gardes Francaises first figures

 Having done the FdM (actually, from memory, I did the foot figures first and then a few months later did the mounted figures and then finally the Grenadier), I then started thinking about what I might try next. At about that time, Graham and I started going up to see Charles from time to time for a weekend of gaming (often battles which later appeared in Charles's excellent "Refighting History" series). Great discussions, running well into the evening, were often had about potential future figures and directions for the range, generally lubricated with the odd fine beverage from Charles's cellar! (I only made a fool of myself once! 😀) Happy days and great memories.

As some of you may be aware, Charles father wrote a great book on the Battle of Fontenoy, within which features this image (Copyright Charles Grant):

I happened to notice this picture on display at Charles's and it served as inspiration for my next foray at more figures. I made an attempt to recreate (with mixed success) the two prominent figures in the image (the ensign and the Garde) plus a more generic standing Garde figure as a substitute for the chap hidden behind the flag. The result was these:

Again, it was a poor choice of figure to attempt, yet more fiddly lace and lots of fine detail. On balance I think the attempt to replicate the Garde on the right of the image was pretty decent, the others more moderate in success. At this point I didn't progress with any more Garde figures, although later I did and I'll show those in due course. Two interesting observations from a "makers" point of view, I've never seen these figures actually used in the configuration/pose they were actually designed for, most folk used them as multiple figures in wider units (you can't control what folk do with stuff once you let it out into wider circulation). Secondly no painted images, because, as of yet, I've never actually got round to painting any of the Garde figures I made, definitely still on the "to do" list. Next time, the start of the Savoia figures ....


Tuesday 30 August 2022

How it all started, my involvement with Crann Tara

 Firstly, thanks to all for the positivity about restarting posting. Nice to hear from many folk that I respect and admire, and glad you've all got through the last few years.

On reflecting about some sort of structure/logic/narrative to posting images etc, I thought it might be of some interest to talk about my focus over the last few years, which has been making and painting the Savoia (Piedmont-Savoy, from the War of the Austrian Succession) figures and the parallel work helping (at times) with the development of the Crann Tara range. I'll say from the start, that the range exists, due to one person, Graham Cummings, who very much was the driving force behind it, taking it from being a small emerging Jacobite range to one which ultimately covered a huge range of nationalities and troop types for a period covering the middle of the Eighteenth Century. The other significant recognition also needs to go to the late Richard Ansell, the sculptor of the range (and the excellent, and very much compatible, Minden/Fife and Drum Figures), who, in my view, didn't get the recognition he deserved for the quality of work he produced. Sadly, the price of not being instep with "fashion". Perhaps, in time, his work will be better appreciated.

Some of what I'll say, has already been said elsewhere, these are my recollections and my "story" of involvement in this, something, which was a hugely enjoyable and rewarding exercise, in many ways.

My involvement with this range started very informally, through John Ray's "A Military Gentleman Forum". Graham was aware that I'd done some fairly rudimentary (Many might say I still am! 😀) sculpting/figure making, and offered me some dollies and bits and bobs from the range to "have a play" with. I thought I'd have a go, and roughly about this time, Charles Grant, was getting involved in the range too, helping do a lot of the research work on uniforms, potential future figures and the like. I knew that one of Charles's fathers favourite units from the old, spencer smith era, was the Fusiliers de la Moliere (FDM), so I though I'd have a go at them and see how I got on. It was my first go at doing figures in this quite fine, detailed, slim style, and it wasn't easy! Ultimately I made 8 foot figures and 4 mounted for the unit. In my view, they were "ok", inevitably, now, a number of years later, I think I could have done them better in some respects, but they are certainly passable. It was also, in hindsight a silly figure to start with, all that Brandenburg lace and the mounted figures hat/helmet were really difficult to do.

Here's a few pics of the figures I made, painted by myself:

More to come .....